CHICAGO - The Public Library Association (PLA) continues its commitment to diversity in the library profession through its support of the American Library Association's (ALA) Spectrum Initiative. In 2005, PLA will fund five Spectrum Scholars interested in pursuing public librarianship as a career. Each scholar will receive $5,000 for tuition reimbursement and $1,500 toward their participation in the 2006 Spectrum Leadership Institute. The deadline to apply for the 2005 scholarships is March 1, 2005.
The five PLA Spectrum Scholars also will be paired with a public librarian mentor; receive underwriting for lodging and meals for two days of attendance at ALA's 2006 Annual Conference; receive travel, lodging, meals and registration for the PLA National Conference 2006 in Boston; and be provided with 2 years of complimentary PLA membership.
Spectrum's major drive is to recruit applicants and award scholarships to American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students for graduate programs in library and information science. Established in 1997, the Spectrum Initiative is the American Library Association's national diversity and recruitment effort designed to address the specific issue of under representation of critically needed ethnic librarians within the profession while serving as a model for ways to bring attention to larger diversity issues in the future. To date, over 270 scholarships have been awarded through the Spectrum program. Application materials and more information on the Spectrum program can be found at www.ala.org/spectrum.
Since the inception of the Spectrum program, PLA has donated $150,000 to the Spectrum endowment and has provided travel grants to PLA conferences and free PLA memberships to a number of Spectrum Scholars interested in public librarianship. The PLA Spectrum Scholarships and the PLA Spectrum Scholar Mentoring Program, both approved by the PLA Executive Board during their January 2005 meeting, add to this tradition of avid support.
"The PLA Board of Directors recognizes the value and critical importance of the Spectrum program and we are pleased to have the opportunity to strengthen Spectrum and to contribute our resources to recruit a new generation of public librarians," said PLA President Clara Nalli Bohrer.
The PLA Spectrum Scholar Mentoring Program will be open to all current Spectrum Scholars, with priority given to the five PLA Spectrum Scholars, and has been designed to serve as a model for an expanded program that will accommodate any PLA member seeking a mentor, with a special emphasis on new librarians.
Larry Neal, chair of PLA's Recruitment of Public Librarians Committee, said he looks forward to "welcoming these future public librarians to the profession, and giving them the opportunity to experience the benefits of association involvement right from the start."
The Public Library Association (PLA), with more than 10,000 members, is one of the fastest growing divisions of the American Library Association (ALA), the oldest and largest library association in the world. PLA's core purpose is to strengthen public libraries and their contribution to the communities they serve. PLA is a member-driven organization that exists to provide a diverse program of communication, publication, advocacy, continuing education and programming for its members and others interested in the advancement of public library service. Founded in 1944, PLA is based in Chicago at the ALA headquarters.