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In partnership with ALA, ProQuest is committed to ensuring that Master’s degrees in library and information science become more accessible and affordable for talented individuals. Since 2001, ProQuest has funded 142 Spectrum Scholars.

When it comes to awarding the Spectrum Scholarships, ALA and ProQuest seek broad participation of diverse librarians in order to provide the next generation of leadership in the transformation of libraries and library services.

We recently spoke with Meagan Daniels, one of the 2014 winners, about her scholarship.

Q. Congratulations on receiving the Spectrum Scholarship! Can you share how the support will help you in your pursuit of a graduate degree in library and information science?
I am thankful for the generous support of the Spectrum Scholarship, which will allow me to complete my degree. I plan to use the scholarship to cover tuition and fees in my final semester of graduate school.

I am looking forward to one of the final courses I will take on usability. The course is based around a semester-long group project in which 4-5 students select a system or service to study, then proceed to conduct a series of evaluations and other analyses, generating reports and recommendations along the way.

Q. What are you concentrating on in the program?
I’m working on a general LIS degree. I am focusing my electives on courses that will help me manage a library program that serves people with disabilities, including a course on technology and disability.

Q. What inspired you to pursue a career in library and information science?
Immediately after earning a bachelor’s degree, I interned at the State of Michigan’s Library for the Blind for a year and a half. I discovered that I loved working at a library. I felt good that I was doing something to help patrons, and I could see the difference I was making. I helped patrons find the books they liked to read and helped them learn how to operate different pieces of assistive technology for people with vision impairments.

When the internship ended, I spent a year working at my local county library for the blind and physically impaired. That experience solidified for me that I like working at libraries. I enjoyed the constant appreciation I received from people and the opportunity to help patrons get relief from their frustration with equipment. In the process, I got to learn about technology that was new to me and expand my knowledge of assistive technology. I loved that, too.

Q. Describe any organizations you’re involved in and your career experience in the library information field so far.
After two internships, I received a position in a library where I was able to put my experience to use working with the blind and physically impaired. I also find the time to participate in several organizations:

•    The Multi-cultural Ethnic Information Exchange (MIX) is an organization for minority and international students at UMSI. We host social and educational programs, such as our annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Symposium.
•    The Multi-Cultural Leadership Council, formed last year by volunteers in other minority graduate student groups on campus. We are a network for each other and try to support each other. We also are a collective organization making sure that diverse voices are heard in terms of issues faced by graduate students on campus.
•    Other organizations I’m in include the U-M student chapter of the American Library Association (ALA), Students with Disabilities and our Allies Group (SDAG), Students of Color of Rackham (SCOR) and the Young Alumni Council of my alma mater, Eastern Michigan University.

Q. What do you hope to do in your career after you complete the MLIS program?
I plan to work at a library for the blind and I hope to help users of assistive technology learn how to operate equipment successfully. I don’t like the idea of a user buying a new piece of technology then just letting it sit in a drawer because they can’t get training on how to use it.

Q. What do you see as the most popular or up and coming field in the library and information program?
Librarians are focusing more on social networking as part of their jobs, both to tell what the branch offers to patrons, as well as to share individual job expertise.

Q. What do you find most exciting about the future of library and information work?
I like the fact that libraries are becoming computer-centered, though still holding on print books. Without computers, it would be much harder to achieve my goal of earning my degree.

Q. What is the best piece of career advice you have received thus far?
One of my former supervisors said to me, “Network, network, network. Get involved with your professional organization.”

Q. Finally, what can you tell us about yourself that we might never guess?
I love listening to all types of music. I have Pandora stations ranging from classical Baroque, to a cappella mixes of Pentatonix, to jazzy Manhattan Transfer, to my favorite pop legends the Backstreet Boys, to New Age ambient instrumentals and today’s rock.

13 Jan 2015

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