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Since 2001, ProQuest has funded 142 Spectrum Scholars through direct contribution and the sponsorship of the Scholarship Bash. When it was decided that the Scholarship Bash would no longer take place, the Office for Diversity and ProQuest created an alternative funding solution that expands the scope of engagement with the Spectrum Scholars.
ProQuest, along with ALA, is committed to ensuring that Master’s degrees in library and information science become more accessible and affordable for talented individuals. When it comes to awarding the Spectrum Scholarships, ALA and ProQuest seek a broad participation of diverse librarians, to provide the next generation of leadership in the transformation of libraries and library services.
Olivia Dorsey, from UNC-Chapel Hill, was awarded the Spectrum Scholarship this year. Following is our interview with her:
You were recently awarded the Spectrum Scholarship in support of pursuing a graduate degree in library and information science. How do you feel about receiving this honor?
It is incredible to have the support of ProQuest and Spectrum. As an undergraduate, I have struggled to find funding to aid my studies and this support will help me so much financially. Not only that, but this award symbolizes the support of my future endeavors in the realm of the Digital Humanities. It is encouragement that tells me that I can do it and that ProQuest and Spectrum believe in my ability to succeed in my graduate program.
Tell us a little about what you will be concentrating on in the program?
In my Masters of Information and Library Science program, I will be focusing on the Digital Humanities. I am interested in using technology to make historical materials more accessible to everyone, not just scholars.
What inspired you to pursue a career in library and information science?
I originally studied Information and Library Science as an undergraduate because I wanted to become a web designer. I enjoyed playing around with HTML and CSS and found it exciting to create things on the web. As I continued through my studies and completed a research project, I realized that there were even more possibilities out there with relation to technology and African American Studies. With the recent explosion of the Digital Humanities field, I now know that working in the Digital Humanities as a Digital Archivist or a Digital Projects Developer is what I would like to do.
What do you find most exciting about the future of library and information work?
The future of library and information work has so much potential, especially at a time like now, when many digital innovations have the potential to enhance library services to patrons. I am proud to be a part of this community because it allows me to enforce the relevance of history while utilizing technology. These intersecting pathways of librarianship, information technology, and history have the capability of having a direct impact on our communities. I am also excited to be in this community because the people that I have met have been so kind and welcoming already!
What do you see as the main issues facing librarians and library staff today?
I see relevance being the main issue facing librarians and library staff today. It isn’t that libraries aren’t relevant, but a matter of making others realize how they are still relevant. Libraries are still significant places for transporting knowledge to the public. Maybe we have moved past the era of “traditional” libraries, but there is a lot of opportunity for libraries to utilize technology to aid in moving libraries forward.
What do you hope to do in your career?
I want to create digital projects that educate people about African American History. I am not afraid to explore any and all avenues for collecting, displaying, and educating about such history. With technology, we have the power to spread the knowledge of a history that is not traditionally taught in K-12 classrooms, and that is not as widely available to the community.
What is the best piece of career advice you have received thus far?
The best piece of career advice that I have received is to not be afraid to step out of the box and create my own path in this new field. Some will agree with me and others will not, but I have to be strong enough to believe in my goals in order to help them come to fruition.
Finally, what can you tell us about yourself that we might never guess?
I can be a big couch potato sometimes. I love playing video games (the PlayStation is my console of choice). The Kingdom Hearts series is my absolute favorite!