URI Prism Fellows to make information available to all
KINGSTON, R.I. -- October 13, 2000 -- Corrina Alves of Barrington,
Shirl Johnson of Newport (recently from St. Louis, Mo.) and Weimin
Zhang from East Greenwich are learning to help diverse people get
the information they need to live and thrive.
The three University of Rhode Island graduate students were selected
as Prism Fellows in the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies
(GSLIS) this fall.
While Alves, Johnson, and Zhang work toward a master's degree in URI's
library and information studies, they won't have to worry about paying tuition.
A $232,646 federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services
pays their tuition and fees, and supports each fellow with $17,600 in wages
GSLIS was awarded the grant this summer to recruit students from diverse
backgrounds, support them in a program of study, and involve them in developing
programs to prepare librarians to work with diverse populations. Three additional
Fellows will be selected for the spring semester.
"This project enhances our recruitment of underrepresented graduate
students, and allows us to prepare graduates to play an important role in
library outreach to diverse populations," noted Dr. Winifred Brownell,
dean of URI's College of Arts and Sciences. GSLIS is a school within the
"We live in a society that is rapidly becoming multicultural,"
said W. Michael Havener of Kingston, director of URI's Graduate School
of Library and Information Studies. "In fact, it would be wiser to
say that we are a multicultural society." Havener wrote the grant
with a team of GSLIS faculty members: Naomi Caldwell of Barrington,
Donna Gilton of Peace Dale, and Yan Ma of Kingston. Assistant
Professor/Reference Librarian Mary MacDonald of Wakefield is also
a member of the project team.
"Information empowers. Librarians strive to empower by helping all
people locate information that will meet the needs of life. It is our function
to help people find, evaluate, and use information," said Havener.
"Research tells us that we are most comfortable with people we
know, people who look like us and talk like us. When we are in a setting
where we feel different, we may not fully disclose our needs and get the
information we seek. One of the goals of this project is to increase diversity
within the profession. We are especially interested in training African-Americans,
Asian- Americans, Hispanics, and Native-Americans to be Fellows," the
The three goals of the grant are:
1. To increase the diversity within the library and information science
2. To prepare a cadre of new information professionals to take leading
roles in bringing information literacy instruction to diverse populations.
3. To create and evaluate a model student support structure that can
be adapted by other schools.
In addition to course work, Prism Fellows are expected to work 10 hours
per week in the Reference Department of the URI Library, work with high
school students during summer 2001, complete field work in a public library,
and attend professional conferences.
The Prism Fellows were required to submit a two-page essay outlining
how the applicant's acceptance as a Fellow would support the project's goals
and explain the applicant's interest in information literacy instruction
and information services to diverse populations.
Requests for more information about the program can be made by e-mailing
firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Jennifer Legare at 401-874-2878.
For Information: W. Michael Havener, 401-874-4641,
Jan Sawyer, 401-874-2116