Spectrum - Scholarship Overview

Librarianship is one of the most diverse professions you can find.  Today's librarians are information specialists, Internet guides, educators, public administrators, children's services specialists, reader's advisors--the choices and career directions are boundless.  However, it is a reality that library staff do not always reflect the communities they serve.  Spectrum specifically addresses the underrepresentation of librarians of color within the current workforce.  To this end, over 800 students from traditionally underrepresented groups have received scholarships, leadership training, professional networking and mentoring in order to build a pool of talented and trained library leaders reflective of the populations served by all libraries.  If you would like to join this extraordinary group and you are committed to serving your community, a Spectrum Scholarship can position you for success. 

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a Spectrum Scholarship:

  • Applicant must be a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. or Canada.
  • Applicant must be American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander.
  • Applicant must attend an ALA-accredited graduate program in library and information studies or an ALA-recognized NCATE School Library Media program.
  • Applicant must be enrolled in an accredited program and begin school no later than September 1st or the Fall Semester immediately following the award (awards are announced each June).
  • Applicants may have full or part time status.
  • Applicants must be able to meet the requirement to maintain a minimum courseload of two classes per semester (the Fall and Winter/Spring semesters following the award notification) during their scholarship year and should not anticipate graduating prior to the May following their award.

Application Procedures

Applications for the Spectrum Scholarships are accepted through the general ALA Scholarship Program governing most scholarships offered through the American Library Association.  Applications for ALA Scholarships are accepted annually from mid-October to March 1. To submit an application for a Spectrum Scholarship, please be sure to thoroughly review the information and directions posted on the  ALA Scholarship Program website.  Keep the following items in mind as you begin your application process:

  • A completed application will consist of an online portion (application, personal statement and references to be submitted online) and mailed additional materials such as a transcript.  Be sure to read the scholarship instruction page carefully to ensure that a complete application reaches the Scholarship Clearinghouse.
  • Application instructions can change from year to year as ALA continually works to improve the scholarship procedures and process, make sure you have current information on hand before beginning your application.
  • Applications become available in the fall (October) of the year prior to the scholarship award year.  Awards are announced on June 1st and the first scholarship installment is sent the following September.
  • The application deadline for ALA scholarships is typically March 1st.  Be sure to begin your application well before the deadline in order to ensure that all materials reach the Scholarship Clearinghouse in time.
  • Apply for as many ALA Scholarships as you are eligible.  This will give you the greatest opportunity to receive funding and the online application has been developed to give applicants greater ease in applying for more than one scholarship.

Description of Scholarship Award

Spectrum provides a one-time, non-renewable $5,000 scholarship award paid in two installments directly to the recipient.  Recipients must begin a program by the fall semester following the award, funds will be forfeited if enrollment is delayed.  Recipients must be enrolled at the time of the second installment, or they will forfeit this portion of the award.  Recipients are announced at the ALA Annual Conference, the award is broken into two $2,500 installments that are awarded in September and January. 

Additional Benefits

Spectrum Scholars receive a number of benefits in addition to their scholarship funds, these include:

  • Complementary one-yr. student membership to ALA (includes one-yr. subscription to American Libraries).
  • Free student admission to ALA Annual conference during the scholarship year.
  • Free attendance to the Spectrum Leadership Institute: a 3 day institute that highlights cross cultural models of leadership and features national library and community leaders.
  • Complementary memberships to participating ALA divisions during the scholarship year.
  • Formal and informal mentoring opportunities. 
  • Matching scholarships from library schools and other regional library associations. 
  • Access to colleagues via an electronic discussion list and online community in ALA Connect.
  • Posted information on job/internship/residency opportunities all over the country and in different types of libraries.
  • Networking with other Spectrum Scholars and library leaders.
  • Participation in a national library diversity initiative and the recognition merited by this distinction.
  • Invitations to present at forums, conferences, and institutes.
  • Opportunities to apply for travel grants to regional institutes and conferences.

Get to Know Spectrum Scholars

For information on the distinguished Spectrum Scholars past and present, please view the Scholar Information portion of this website.  Read up on their accomplishments and hear what they have to say about librarianship to see how the new voices and new faces of the profession are ushering in a whole new era of librarianship!

Add Your Voice!

Contact the ALA Office for Diversity for more information on becoming a Spectrum Scholar.

spectrum logo