By Martha Parker, MLIS
Editor’s note: In celebration of National Library Workers Day and National Library Week, we post this update from Martha Parker, a graduate of the Academic and Cultural Enrichment (ACE) Scholars Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. UNCG instituted the ACE program, with funding from an IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian program, in order to increase the number of culturally diverse librarians in academic libraries. Martha was in the first cohort of ACE scholars, beginning the MLIS program at UNCG in 2009 and graduating in 2011.
I never imagined earning a master’s degree could be such a fun undertaking. But I was privileged to do my graduate work at a very welcoming institution with exceptionally supportive and caring faculty, mentors, and administrators. The 2009 UNCG ACE scholar cohort delivered a 100 percent graduation rate.
While earning my MLIS, I was able to gain practical experience by completing three internships at two participating academic institutions. All of us had the opportunity to engage other library students in the Greensboro-Charlotte area by attending and participating in ACEs own conference: “Un-hushed: Speaking Up in the Library and Information Science Profession (Or The Really Fun, Super Cool Library Conference).”
On January 9th, 2012, I became Librarian-in Residence at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. This is an entry-level position in which I will experience a minimum of three areas of librarianship and devlop a specialty over a period of two or three years. Already I have been exposed to all of the U of A libraries, interacted with colleagues, and taken on several assignments. My initial projects are related to cataloging special collections items such as finding aids, participating as a selector of diverse monographs, and contributing to a study of library guides trends. U of A Libraries further immersed me in the profession by providing a trip to the 2012 ALA mid-winter conference. Interacting with so many library professionals and gaining perspective on future library trends made for an incredible experience. For me, this is a dream job.
In addition to learning librarian ship at UNCG and U of A, I have also learned that is never too late to pursue your dreams. I am in a constant state of change; the worst thing that could ever happen to me is to stop learning. What I like most about this field is that continual academic challenge is a requirement of the job. This is the wonderful opportunity these diversity programs at UNCG and U of A have given me.