Leaders Wanted: Exploring Doctoral Options

Tuesday, 6/4/2019
  • 2:00 PM (Eastern)
  • 1:00 PM (Central)
  • 12:00 PM (Mountain)
  • 11:00 AM (Pacific)

Representation of diversity in LIS education and research is paramount to achieving our diversity recruitment and retention goals. This hour-long webinar will feature current students and recent graduates from LIS doctoral programs. Don't miss this unique opportunity to explore the PhD journey and chat with those who have first-hand experience with this process. All are welcome to join us!

This webinar is part of a series of Leaders Wanted online informational sessions and resources inspired by the Leaders Wanted events held each year at the ALA Annual Conference with the goal of recruiting librarians and LIS students of color to LIS doctoral programs. We believe doctoral education is a key to diversifying leadership in the academy and in the field of library and information science. These events occurred annually from 2008 to 2018 and were organized by the University of Washington iSchool and ALA's Spectrum Scholarship Program. We've developed Leaders Wanted now as online series to increase access to this network and resources.  

Doctoral programs interested in participating in future virtual events and contributing resources to our website can indicate their interest by filling out this form.

Learning Outcomes

Participants will learn about:

  • Finding the right doctoral program, including department and campus climate and support for students of color
  • Navigating barriers, hurdles, and/or challenges 
  • Resources and sources of opportunity, comfort, support and power
  • Application process and connecting with faculty
  • Funding: when/where/how to find it

Who Should Attend

Everyone with an interest in doctoral studies in LIS is welcome, specific resources will be shared for students of color and other underrepresented minority groups.


Photo of Nicole A. CookeHosted and Developed by Dr. Nicole A. Cooke

Dr. Nicole A. Cooke is an Associate Professor at the School of Information Sciences, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research and teaching interests include human information behavior (particularly in the online context), critical cultural information studies, and diversity and social justice in librarianship (with an emphasis on infusing them into LIS education and pedagogy). Dr. Cooke was awarded the 2017 ALA Achievement in Library Diversity Research Award, presented by the Office for Diversity and Literacy Outreach Services, and the 2016 ALA Equality Award. She has also been honored as the University of Illinois YWCA’s 2015 Leadership Award in Education winner in recognition of her work in social justice and higher education, and she was selected as the University’s 2016 Larine Y. Cowan Make a Difference Award for Teaching and Mentoring in Diversity. She was also named a Mover & Shaker by Library Journal in 2007. Cooke has published numerous articles and book chapters, and she is the author of the book, Information Services to Diverse Populations: Developing Culturally Competent Library Professionals (Libraries Unlimited, 2016), and co-editor of the book, Teaching for Justice: Implementing Social Justice in the LIS Classroom (Library Juice Press, 2017). Her latest book is Fake News and Alternative Facts: Information Literacy in a Post-Truth Era (ALA Editions, 2018).

Photo of Jason AlstonJason K. Alston

Jason K. Alston is a professor for the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies at the University of Missouri and a librarian for the University of Missouri – Kansas City. Alston holds a PhD in library science from the University of South Carolina, a masters in library science from North Carolina Central University, and a BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Alston’s other topical interests within LIS include cultural heritage, information processing and verification habits particularly of African-Americans and those of the African Diaspora, and mass media engagement with libraries and other information resources such as museums, archives and heritage sites. Alston is originally from Soul City, North Carolina.


Photo of Laverne GrayLaVerne Gray

LaVerne Gray, PhD completed her studies (December 2018) at the College of Communication and Information with a concentration in Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has a MLIS from Dominican University and MS Ed in Educational Psychology from Northern Illinois University. Before beginning doctoral studies, LaVerne worked eight years as an outreach, reference, and instruction academic librarian. She was inspired to become a librarian from her Peace Corps Service in West Africa. LaVerne is a recipient of the American Library Association Spectrum doctoral fellowship and a summer 2017 University of Chicago Black Metropolis Research Consortium(BMRC) fellowship. She is currently a lecturer in the School of Information Studies at the University of Tennessee, where she teaches two courses (Information Access and Retrieval & Collection Development and Management). She previously worked with Student Support Services as an advisor/mentor to underrepresented undergraduate students, organizing graduate school preparation and research opportunities. Her research interests are Black feminism, information behavior, cultural studies, qualitative methodology, and critical librarianship. This Fall, she will be joining the iSchool Faculty at Syracuse University.

Photo of Africa HandsDr. Africa Hands

Dr. Africa Hands is a lecturer at San Jose State University. Her research focuses on LIS student motivation, faculty support from the lens of self-determination theory, and library services to college-bound patrons and underserved communities. She is the author of Successfully Serving the College Bound (ALA Editions, 2015), a book inspired by her experiences in higher education and public libraries. Africa is active in the Association for Library Service to Children, serving on the board of directors.


Photo of Sandy LittletreeDr. Sandy Littletree

Sandy will join the faculty at the University of Washington Information School as a Lecturer this fall. Her research and teaching focuses on the intersections of Indigenous systems of knowledge and the LIS field. She earned her Ph.D. from the Information School at the University of Washington in 2018. Her ALA-accredited MSIS degree is from The University of Texas at Austin iSchool. She was one of the six Honoring Generations Scholars at UT-Austin, and was an ALA Spectrum Scholar. She also has an MA degree in Curriculum and Instruction from New Mexico State University. She was an academic librarian at North Carolina State University Libraries through their acclaimed Fellows program.

Photo of Liz MillsJ. Elizabeth Mills

J. Elizabeth Mills is a PhD Candidate at the University of Washington Information School. She studies how public children's librarians use the design process of reflection in their production of storytimes for young children. She is co-author of Supercharged Storytimes: An Early Literacy Planning and Assessment Guide, published by ALA Editions (http://bit.ly/2FnhhAE), and co-editor of Create, Innovate, and Serve: A Radical Approach to Children's and Youth Programming (http://bit.ly/2FpcrTL), published by ALA Neal-Schuman.




How to Register

Register via Zoom at http://bit.ly/2DLAtFp

Tech Requirements

Live, synchronous lectures will require attendee participation via internet audio. Attendees will need a wired, high-speed internet connection, and a headset or speakers. It is recommended that attendees use headsets connected to their computers (VOIP) during a Zoom session. All attendees are muted and should use the built in chat function to communicate with presenters. The use of computer speakers with a mic is not recommended, as it may cause echo. The recommended browser is Mozilla Foxfire although other browsers should work for attending.


Contact the Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services at diversity@ala.org with questions about this webinar.