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A Social Justice Framework in Community Engagement: The Rural Librarian Information Technology Master’s Scholarship Program

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Title: A Social Justice Framework in Community Engagement: The Rural Librarian Information Technology Master’s Scholarship Program


1
A Social Justice Framework in Community
Engagement The Rural Librarian
Information Technology Masters Scholarship
Program
Johnson City Public
Library, TN
Hancock County Public
Library, Sneedville, TN
Sevier County Public Library,
Sevierville, TN
Lake City Public Library, TN
Bharat Mehra (bmehra_at_utk.edu), Associate
Professor School of Information Sciences,
University of Tennessee
2
Agenda
  • Theoretical Principles
  • Social Justice Considerations
  • Community Engagement
  • About the ITRL Program and the ITRL Purpose
  • Why the ITRL Program is Important?
  • Research Goals
  • Discussion
  • Collaborations in the Planning and Development of
    the ITRL Grant Proposal
  • Partnerships in the Five Phases of the ITRL
    Project Design
  • Conclusions

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
3
Theoretical Principles
  • Fairness and equity in social relationships Does
    the project reflect upon making various
    experiences more equitable for specific
    underserved individuals or populations?
  • Empowerment How is the project changing
  • Ways in which individuals can take action to make
    a difference in their lives before and after the
    interaction?
  • Peoples perception about their role in
    determining the course of their lives before and
    after the interaction?
  • Economic, political, social, cultural, and
    environmental impacts How is the interaction
    changing the ways things are at these levels
    before and after the interaction?

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
4
Theoretical Principles
  • Community building and community development
    Building equitable partnerships and
    collaborations within and across the academy with
    local, national and international communities to
    promote social equity and social justice for
    individual, social, and community empowerment of
    the disenfranchised.
  • Diversity, multiplicity, and democracy Varied
    and participative involvement in decision-making.
  • Everyday information needs Does the project
    change how the everyday information needs of the
    disenfranchised get met?
  • Community informatics Exploring the role and the
    application of information and communication
    technologies (ICTs) to empower and enable local
    and global communities to meet their goals and
    aspirations.

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
5
Social Justice Considerations 
  • Recognize traditionally identified marginalized
    as equals who are experts in knowing their own
    situations/realities.
  • Develop equitable partnerships in LIS to empower
    people to make changes in their everyday
    circumstances.
  •  
  • Discard labels that minimize peoples experiences
    and identify all project participants as
    community researchers.

Mehra, B., Rioux, K., Albright, K. S. (2009).
Social Justice in Library and Information
Science. In M. J. Bates M. N. Maack (eds.),
Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences.
New York Taylor Francis Group. Mehra, B.,
Albright, K. S., Rioux, K. (2006). A Practical
Framework for Social Justice Research in the
Information Professions. Proceedings of the 69th
Annual Meeting of the American Society for
Information Science Technology 2006 Volume 43.
poster/short paper
CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
6
Social Justice in LIS Research
  • Contextualize library and information science
    (LIS) work in the everyday experiences of
    society's "marginalized" in ways that make a
    difference in their socio-economic and
    socio-political experiences of marginalization.
  • Recognize the diverse potential of LIS work for
    bringing real change in people's lives.
  • Begin to re-examine LIS scholarship, practice,
    and relevance to emerging social contexts of the
    21st century.
  • Identify and explore a range of "how to" methods
    and approaches in LIS that may build upon the
    existing measures of social justice outcomes and
    impacts.

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
7
Social Justice Elements
  • An underserved population
  • Identifies which group (or individuals) we are
    working with.
  • The information (communication) need Presents an
    asset-based approach that recognizes the
    strengths of various stakeholders (including the
    identified marginalized) goes beyond a deficit
    approach traditionally adopted in LIS research
    and helps to develop a service plan that taps
    into existing strengths embedded in the project.
  • Methodologies Examines research approaches used
    in the process of engaging with the study
    population.
  • Outcomes What are the tangible and intangible
    changes that have occurred in the lives of the
    targeted individuals before and after getting
    involved in the project?
  • Assessment and evaluation Did the original need
    that motivated the interaction get addressed? How
    effective were the strategies that were adopted
    to address the original issue?

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
8
Community Engagement
  • American LIS programs and their affiliated
    institutions need more critical/constructive
    approaches to revise traditionally defined
    outreach/service missions that are add-ons to
    teaching and research agendas.
  • (Osborne, 2004 Fear Sandman, 1995)
  • Current developments in LIS education call for
    employing the phrase community engagement to
  • Accurately represent integration efforts of
    teaching, research, and service that better
    captures the community essence of social equity
    and justice. (Gibson,
    2006 McCook, 2000)
  • Replace historically loaded, socio-politically
    biased words (e.g., outreach/service) symbolizing
    imbalanced power inequities.

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
9
Community Engagement
  • Recognizes the need for using the right language,
    vocabulary, and unbiased words to represent
    conceptualization and planning of
    socially-relevant research projects in the LIS
    curriculum.
  • Adopts more holistic and integrated efforts that
    connect teaching, research, and student
    participation in collaborations of engagement
    with local, regional, national, and global
    communities to achieve socially-relevant
    outcomes.
  • Represents a more contemporary and relevant
    strategy in recognizing diversity and the assets
    and skills of the underserved populations on
    societys margins.
  • Presents a model that is reflective and
    forward-oriented in its efforts to build
    equitable partnerships, involving LIS students
    and community members, to achieve
    collaboratively-defined community goals.

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
10
Grant Project
  • Rural Library Professionals as Change Agents in
    the 21st Century Integrating Information
    Technology Competencies in the Southern and
    Central Appalachian Region (ITRL) (567,660).
    Institute of Museum and Library Services, Laura
    Bush 21st Century Librarian Program , October
    2009 September 2012 (PI B. Mehra, K. Black, V.
    Singh).

ITRL Planning Meeting 13 November, 2009
CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
11
About the ITRL Program
  • Information Technology Rural Librarian Masters
    Scholarship Program (ITRL) in the School of
    Information Sciences at the University of
    Tennessee meets an urgent need for rural
    librarians in the Southern and Central
    Appalachian (SCA) region to develop information
    technology competencies and training in a
    masters program (accredited by the American
    Library Association) that combines work
    experience and practice with graduate instruction
    and curriculum support.

Hamlin-Lincoln County
Public Library, Hamlin, WV
CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
12
The ITRL Purpose
  • The purpose of the ITRL Scholarship Program was
    to recruit sixteen paraprofessionals working in
    rural libraries in the SCA regions to complete
    their masters degree with a focus on IT and
    rural librarianship in the UTs SIS program via
    distance.
  • ITRL students are receiving
  • Part-time degree in a program accredited by the
    ALA
  • A structured, individually-tailored IT and
    rural management curriculum
  • Rural library practices and needs incorporated
    into the curriculum
  • IT competencies in developing rural library
    work applications
  • Formal/informal professional mentoring by
    educators and practitioners
  • Full-tuition scholarship for two years
  • Allowance for materials
  • Provision of a laptop computer

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
13
Why the ITRL Program is Important
  • The Southern and Central Appalachian Region is
    experiencing
  • Information poverty and unemployment
  • Economic challenges
  • Low levels of information literacy and
    educational attainment
  • A lack of access and use of IT
  • Other unique environmental challenges

Library professionals who are embedded in their
communities are in a strong position to help
address and develop solutions to these needs.
Laurel Jones Public Library, Laurel, MS
CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
14
Research Goals
  • To identify collaborations that were significant
    in the planning
    and development of the ITRL grant proposal.
  • To explore partnerships that will be instrumental
    in implementing future activities in the five
    phases of the ITRL project design
  • 1. Recruitment of ITRL students from the SCAs
    rural libraries.
  • 2. Needs assessment of library
    services/information challenges in the SCA .
  • 3. Implementation of educational and training
    activities.
  • 4. Professional mentoring by professional
    educators and practitioners.
  • 5. Evaluation/assessment of program outcomes,
    and dissemination of program
    results/experiences.
  • To discuss social justice principles and
    community engagement in
    the ITRL project.

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
15
Collaborations in the ITRL Planning
and Development of the Grant Proposal
  • Ongoing feedback from regional librarians in the
    UTs SIS advisory board and alumni networks and
    paraprofessional experiences shared
    by SIS DE students developed a fuller picture
    about the context of study.
  • Participation in local, regional, and
    state-level professional library networks
    established professional ties with rural
    librarians in the SCA region and gained their
    support and involvement in the grant proposal.
  • Contributions by East Tennessees regional
    public librarians in a pilot study furthered
    formal assessment of need and provided evidence
    to inform the grant development process.
  • Strategic planning in East Tennessees two
    regional libraries provided the impetus to take
    action to address the experienced challenges
    (e.g., lack of resources) in the regions public
    libraries.

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
16
Collaborations in the ITRL Planning
and Development of the Grant Proposal
  • A pilot quantitative web-based survey with select
    open-ended
    questions was conducted to explore the
    perspectives of East Tennessees regional
    librarians about the extent of their need for a
    professional library education to integrate IT
    competencies and information management skills in
    their work environments.
  • Research questions
  • What are the key information needs of rural
    communities in the region?
  • What are the library services provided by rural
    information professionals in the region?
  • What is the extent of perceived need for formal
    library professional education among
    information professionals in the region?
  • What specific training/educational programs are
    needed by information professionals
  • in the region?

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
17
Collaborations in the ITRL Planning and
Development of the Grant Proposal
  • Involvement of project partners throughout the
    grant activities is
    providing validity, leadership, knowledge,
    networks, experience, and drive to promote
    IT-based development and change in the regions
    communities.
  • Nancy Renfro, Director, Watauga Regional
    Library
  • Donald B. Reynolds, Director, Nolichucky
    Regional Library System
  • Susan Simmons, Director, Clinch-Powell Regional
    Library
  • KC Williams, System Director, Sevier County
    Public Library
  • Representatives from other regional and county
    library systems in the nine states within
    the SCA region are
    participating in the various grant activities.

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
18
Collaborations in the ITRL Phase 1 Recruitment
  • Created the ITRL Recruitment Board with
    members who helped recruit potential ITRL
    applicants, developed a plan for competitive
    recruitment of students to the program, including
    development of recruitment materials and criteria
    for selection (e.g. members of ARSL, ETLA).
  • State librarians, regional library directors,
    county library directors, and others in the SCA
    region assisted in marketing and promotion
    efforts, identifying potential candidates from
    their staff and community populations, and
    helping them complete admission procedures and
    application materials.

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
19
Heather Ruble Duby, Acquisitions Assistant,
Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville TN
Brittany Renee Fletcher, Elementary School
Teacher/Media Team Member, Mountain City
Elementary School Media Center, Mountain City, TN
Julie Forkner, Reference Librarian,
E. G. Fisher Public Library, Athens, TN
Becky Boatman Grindstaff, Software Support
Specialist, Knox County Schools, Knoxville, TN
Angela Cortellino Glowcheski, Information
Specialist, Lumpkin County Public Library,
Chestatee Regional Library, Dahlonega, GA
ITRL Students
CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
20
Richard George Haynes, Director, Harlan County
Public Library System, Harlan, KY
Kevin Sean Jump, Circulation Assistant,
Weeks-Townsend Memorial Library, Barbourville, KY
Lauren Long, Library Technologist,
Madison County Public Library,
Marshall, NC
Helen Frances Owen No picture Instructional
Supervisor for Materials and Supplies, Teacher
Resource Center, Sevier County School System,
Sevierville, TN
Susan Elaine Macrellis, Library Director, East
Ridge City Library, East
Ridge, TN
ITRL Students
CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
Sally Elizabeth Gilliam, Library Assistant,
Lonesome Pine Regional Library, Big Stone Gap,
Virginia.\ Angela Cortellino Glowcheski,
Information Specialist, Lumpkin County Public
Library, Chestatee Regional Library, Dahlonega,
Georgia. Richard George HaynesHaynes, Director,
Harlan County Public Library System, Harlan,
Kentucky. Kevin Sean Jump, Circulation Assistant,
Weeks-Townsend Memorial Library, Barbourville,
Kentucky. Lauren Long, Library Technologist,
Madison County Public Library, Marshall, North
Carolina. Susan Elaine Macrellis, Library
Director, East Ridge City Library, East Ridge,
Tennessee. Helen Frances Owen, Instructional
Supervisor for Materials and Supplies, Teacher
Resource Center, Sevier County School System,
Sevierville, Tennessee. Marilyn J. Pontius,
Hancock War Memorial Branch Library, Washington
County Free Library, Washington County,
Maryland. Deborah J. Ratliff, Branch
Manager/Program Specialist, Goshen Public
Library, Rockbridge Regional Library, Goshen,
Virginia. Christine Maness Smith, Branch Manager,
C. Bascom Slemp Memorial Library, Lonesome Pine
regional Library System, Big Stone Gap,
Virginia. Susan J. Williams, Resource
Center/Education Coordinator, Highlander Research
and Education Center, New Market,
Tennessee. Vicki Michelle Crawford Winstead,
Library Media Specialist, Jackson Elementary
School Library, Kingsport, Tennessee. Amber Dawn
Woodard, Library Technical Assistant, Cumberland
University, Lebanon, Tennessee.   Vandana Singh,
Assistant Professor Carol Tenopir,
Professor Peiling Wang, Professor Cindy
Welch, Assistant Professor
21
Marilyn J. Pontius, Hancock War Memorial Branch
Library, Washington County Free Library,
Washington County, MA
Deborah J. Ratliff, Branch Manager/Program
Specialist, Goshen Public Library, Rockbridge
Regional Library, Goshen, VI
Christine Maness Smith, Branch Manager, C. Bascom
Slemp Memorial Library, Lonesome Pine regional
Library System, Big Stone Gap, VI
Susan J. Williams No picture. Resource
Center/Education Coordinator, Highlander
Research and Education Center, New Market, TN
Amber Dawn Woodard, Library Technical Assistant,
Cumberland University, Lebanon, TN
Vicki Michelle Crawford Winstead, Library Media
Specialist, Jackson Elementary School Library,
Kingsport, TN
ITRL Students
CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
Sally Elizabeth Gilliam, Library Assistant,
Lonesome Pine Regional Library, Big Stone Gap,
Virginia.\ Angela Cortellino Glowcheski,
Information Specialist, Lumpkin County Public
Library, Chestatee Regional Library, Dahlonega,
Georgia. Richard George HaynesHaynes, Director,
Harlan County Public Library System, Harlan,
Kentucky. Kevin Sean Jump, Circulation Assistant,
Weeks-Townsend Memorial Library, Barbourville,
Kentucky. Lauren Long, Library Technologist,
Madison County Public Library, Marshall, North
Carolina. Susan Elaine Macrellis, Library
Director, East Ridge City Library, East Ridge,
Tennessee. Helen Frances Owen, Instructional
Supervisor for Materials and Supplies, Teacher
Resource Center, Sevier County School System,
Sevierville, Tennessee. Marilyn J. Pontius,
Hancock War Memorial Branch Library, Washington
County Free Library, Washington County,
Maryland. Deborah J. Ratliff, Branch
Manager/Program Specialist, Goshen Public
Library, Rockbridge Regional Library, Goshen,
Virginia. Christine Maness Smith, Branch Manager,
C. Bascom Slemp Memorial Library, Lonesome Pine
regional Library System, Big Stone Gap,
Virginia. Susan J. Williams, Resource
Center/Education Coordinator, Highlander Research
and Education Center, New Market,
Tennessee. Vicki Michelle Crawford Winstead,
Library Media Specialist, Jackson Elementary
School Library, Kingsport, Tennessee. Amber Dawn
Woodard, Library Technical Assistant, Cumberland
University, Lebanon, Tennessee.   Vandana Singh,
Assistant Professor Carol Tenopir,
Professor Peiling Wang, Professor Cindy
Welch, Assistant Professor
22
Collaborations in ITRL Phase 2 Needs Assessment
  • An ITRL Needs Assessment Symposium online and
    face-to-face meetings was conducted in
    March/April 2010 and fifty library and
    information professionals from across the SCA
    region provided feedback about library services
    and information challenges experienced in their
    rural libraries.
  • Online break-out sessions and face-to-face focus
    groups were orchestrated to address local
    information needs, use of information resources
    and services, challenges and barriers, areas of
    improvement, and use of computers and information
    technologies.

Doddridge County Public Library, West Union, WV
CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
23
Collaborations in ITRL Phase 3
Education/Training Implementation
  • IT deliverables applied towards rural libraries
    include
  • Technology planning, assessment, and analysis
  • Database and web design, development, and
    usability
  • Building digital library, web portals, and
    Library 2.0 tools
  • Establishing hardware and software configurations
    for networking systems 
  • Management outcomes in rural library courses
    include
  • Service evaluation/assessment in rural libraries
  • Planning/management of a rural library program
    for youth and adults
  • Readers advisory and other information services
  • Grant writing and partnership development

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
24
ITRL Course Schedule
(42 Credit Hour Program)
CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
25
Collaborations in ITRL Phase 3 The
Possibilities in IT Courses
  • Partnerships to facilitate student developed
    course outcomes related to
  • Creation and use of technology and online tools
    (e.g., digital libraries, OPAC, electronic
    databases) to access local materials, bringing
    together state and local library networks.
  • Understanding of IT-related planning and
    application of research methodologies to train
    other employees/ patrons to fully utilize
    available databases and search engines.
  • Community based electronic communications (using
    Web 2.0 to promote and expand library services).

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
26
Collaborations in ITRL Phase 3 The
Possibilities in Rural Management Courses
  • Collaborations with rural libraries where ITRL
  • students work to facilitate development of
    course outcomes related to
  • Library service evaluation based on understanding
    of user needs
  • as assessed by students and the library.
  • Working within individual libraries with
    employees and patrons to offer appropriate
    services and materials responding to changes in
    expectations of various populations (current
    interests, activities, etc.).
  • Improving reader s advisory methods and
    techniques, creating partnerships between their
    library and other libraries, writing grant
    proposals for the library.

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
27
Collaborations in ITRL Phase 4 Professional
Mentoring
  • Sixteen librarians with MLS degrees have formed
    the ITRL Mentoring
    Board that is working with ITRL educators
    to tailor individual students academic program
    in integrating IT competencies to meet the needs
    of their rural library and
    community since May 2010.
  • ITRL students, educators from UTs SIS, and
    practitioner-mentors from the ITRL Mentoring
    Board identified learning objectives, course
    recommendations, and research projects to enhance
    IT skills with rural
    library applications.
  • Faculty and practitioner-mentor participants
    developed profiles of work/position descriptions
    and IT expectations for each ITRL student.
  • Each work/position profile is incorporating
    specific IT content and rural management
    applications.

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
28
ITRL Connections Practitioner-Mentoring Board
  • Nancy Renfro, Director, Watauga Regional Library,
    Johnson City, TN.
  • Practitioner-Mentor of Heather Duby.
  • Amy Bond, Director, Lonesome Pine Regional
    Library, Big Stone Gap, VA.
  • Practitioner-mentor of Brittany R. Fletcher.
  • Cindy Church, Continuing Education Consultant,
    Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA.
    Practitioner-mentor of Julie Forkner.
  • Susan Simmons, Director, Clinch-Powell Regional
    Library, Clinton, TN.
  • Practitioner-mentor of Angela C. Glowcheski.
  • Jennifer Cowan-Henderson, Director, Upper
    Cumberland Regional Library, Cookeville,
    TN. Practitioner-Mentor of Becky Boatman
    Grindstaff.
  • Lori Acton, District Director, Laurel County
    Public Library, London, KY.
  • Practitioner-Mentor for Richard G. Haynes.

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
29
ITRL Connections Practitioner-Mentoring Board
  • Chris Durman, Music Librarian, University of
    Tennessee, Knoxville, TN.
  • Practitioner-mentor of Kevin Sean Jump.
  • Melodi Goff, Director, Cumberland County Public
    Library, Fayetteville, NC.
  • Practitioner-mentor of Lauren Long.
  • Connie Pierce, Media Specialist for Ganns Middle
    Valley Elementary School,
    Chattanooga, TN. Practitioner-Mentor of Susan E.
    Macrellis.
  • K. C. Williams, System Director, Sevier County
    Public Library System,
  • Sevierville, TN. Practitioner-Mentor of Helen
    F. Owen.
  • Patrick Davison, Reference Librarian, Hazard
    Community Technical
    College, Combs, KY. Practitioner-Mentor of
    Marilyn J. Pontius.

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
30
ITRL Connections Practitioner-Mentoring Board
  • Karen Kuhn, Library Director, Clifton Forge
    Public Library, VA.
  • Practitioner-Mentor of Deborah J. Ratliff.
  • Michael Gilley, Director, Mountain Empire
    Community College, VA. 
  • Practitioner-Mentor of Christine M. Smith.
  • Dr. Fred Hay, Librarian, Appalachian State
    University, Boone, NC.
  • Practitioner-mentor of Susan J. Williams.
  • Helen Whitaker, Director, Kingsport Public
    Library, Kingsport, TN.
  • Practitioner-mentor of Vicki M. C. Winstead.
  • Don Reynolds, Director, Nolichucky Regional
    Library, Morristown, TN.
  • Practitioner-mentor of Amber D. Woodard.

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
31
Collaborations in ITRL Phase 5 Evaluation
  • Feedback from ITRL mentors, students, rural
    library professionals, and rural library patrons
    are being regularly collected.
  • Throughout the ITRL duration we will continuously
    analyze the effectiveness of students
    experiences in developing IT course applications
    for their rural work environments.
  • Quantitative survey-based online student
    evaluation at the beginning and end of each
    class.
  • Qualitative interviews in alternate semesters.
  • This will include data on community outcomes,
    career choice, academic success, and the
    graduates evaluation of the program.

CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
32
Conclusions
  • ITRL is a collaborative effort from conception to
    completion. Educators, partners, students, and
    libraries are working together to improve
    community services and materials across the SCA
    rural belt. It is helping to apply social justice
    and community engagement efforts to promote
    progressive development in the region. We hope
    this collaboration will continue long after the
    ITRL students graduate.

Upshur County Public Library, Buckhannon, WV
CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
33
Acknowledgements
We appreciate the funding from IMLS that is
helping to support activities reported in this
presentation. We gratefully acknowledge the
participation and contributions of the SCA
regional public librarians and others who
participated in various data gathering methods.
CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
34
Questions and Comments?
Thank you for your attention and participation.
CCI 620, March 2011 Mehra
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