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Let the spotlight shine on the Spectrum scholars! Join Spectrum Scholarship Sponsor ProQuest in congratulating the amazing students and professionals who have shaped the library profession for 15 years.
By Patricia Peiffer
During the fall of 2012, I was a college sophomore in full pursuit of my Bachelor degree in Elementary Education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). That August I had received a scholarship through the Greater Kansas City Development Fund and was matched with a mentor through the Avanzando mentorship program.
As a first-generation college student, I was thrilled to be working with a mentor to help me navigate college. I was matched with Gloria Tibbs, a reference librarian, co-liaison for the Black Studies program, and diversity liaison to the UMKC University Libraries.
From the first meeting, we connected over our love of books and our extroverted personalities. I didn’t know what librarians did, but Gloria took me under her wing and through modeling her duties I learned what it meant to be a librarian. She introduced me to colleagues like the Education subject liaison librarian, Dean of the University Libraries, and a library science professor from MU. Each showed how they could help me in my journey at UMKC.
Not only did Gloria teach me about librarianship, she was instrumental in my success at UMKC. For example, I was working on a project and was -- like many students -- stuck in the research process. Gloria showed me how to surf through databases and find an abundance of information. “Wow! This is what a librarian in action looks like!” I thought.
After much reflecting, I told Gloria that I was seriously considering librarianship. I had found a place for my passions: social justice, cultural roots and providing access to information. Gloria and the Dean of Libraries Bonnie Postlethwaite found sponsorship for me to attend the Joint Conference of the Librarians of Color.
Gloria, who was presenting at the conference and was part of the reception committee, took me around and introduced me to other librarians involved in the conference and presentation. It was so eye-opening – from seeing how librarians research and present, to learning how they serve large communities from all over the country. I saw librarians from all different backgrounds, which was rare for me to see in my years at school.
Then I met Spectrum Scholars and told Gloria, “I want to be one of them.” That conference gave me the jumpstart I needed to find the profession that had chosen me from the beginning.
Gloria mentored me through Avanzando as an undergraduate and continues to mentor me today! I finished my degree in Elementary Education – with a contract in hand to teach 19 first-graders – but knew library school would be next. While I will always be thankful for my time in the classroom, after a year of teaching I went back home to the Miller Nichols Library at UMKC as a graduate student.
I worked across the hall from Gloria, who was now the library’s Organizational Coordinator. I was hired as an information literacy fellow working alongside two amazing librarians, Jess Williams and Dani Wellemeyer – whom I credit for helping me get through my first year of library school while I sharpened my skills as a future academic librarian.
No matter where I go, I will be thankful to Gloria for helping me find my profession in librarianship. It was her investment of time and talent that helped lead me to where I am today. I hope to pay it forward with a student someday as Gloria did.
Librarians are powerful change agents. Through mentorship, we can change our community, our profession, and our organizations. Will you join me as a mentor?
I am a student at the University of Missouri School of Information Science and will be completing my Master degree of Library Science in May 2017. Thank you to ProQuest and the American Library Association for helping me accomplishing my goals through Spectrum! Learn more about my journey.