U.S. Rep. Ron Barber announced March 31 that the University of Arizona has received a grant of nearly $500,000 to help increase the number of Native Americans and Hispanics who study library and information sciences.
The $498,736 grant was awarded to the UA School of Information Resources and Library Science by the Institute of Museum and Library Services as part of its Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program.
“This is an outstanding opportunity for the University of Arizona to expand its support to the Native American and Hispanic communities throughout the Southwest,” Barber said. “These are among communities that historically are underserved and this grant will help address that shortfall.”
The grant was awarded because there are very few Hispanics and Native Americans who study library and information sciences. UA will address that through its Knowledge River project, which focuses on archives and special collections, medical librarianship and public librarianship.
Gina Macaluso, assistant professor in the school and director of the Knowledge River project, said the funding is badly needed because “the number of Native American and Latino librarians and archivists is very low.”
Since the program was started in 2001, it has graduated 155 librarians and archivists who are working all over the United States and around the world, Macaluso said. One graduate is working in Australia with the indigenous population, she added.
The grant will help educate 24 master’s degree students to serve Hispanic and Native American communities in the digital world. Students will gain hands-on experience working as graduate assistants with project partners including the UA Libraries, Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Health Sciences Library and Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.
Other partners are the Pima County Public Library, Arizona Historical Society, Arizona State Museum, Labriola National American Indian Data Center, American Indian Film Gallery and the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.
The Institute for Museum and Library Services is an independent, federal agency that is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.
There were 82 applications for the grants and UA was among 23 successful recipients who received more than $3.6 million.