MLIS student named a 2015–2017 ARL Diversity Scholar
St. Catherine University Master of Library and Information Science student Edwin Schenk MLIS’16 was selected as a 2015-2017 Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Diversity Scholar.
He will receive a $10,000 stipend over two years as well as significant professional development and training. Schenk is among only 18 MLIS students selected from across the country for this honor as part of the ARL 2015–2017 Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce (IRDW).
“I’m really proud to represent St. Catherine University and I’m excited for what it means for my career,” says Schenk, who works as Library Director for North Central University.
Underwritten by ARL member libraries, the Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce offers numerous benefits to program participants, including the annual ARL Leadership Symposium (in Boston this year), a formal mentoring program, career placement assistance and an ARL research library visit.
A member of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Schenk has a passion for cultural preservation and is particularly excited about visiting a research library.
“MIT has a linguistics program and a division that is dedicated to indigenous speakers of dying languages. I’m curious what MIT libraries are doing to support that, if they have some kind of digital repository,” says Schenk. “It would be great to learn more about that and bring that knowledge back to serve the Native community here.”
Creating a diverse workforce
The ARL Diversity Scholars program promotes the creation of a diverse research library professional community to meet the challenges of changing demographics in higher education, with an emphasis on global perspectives.
Schenk says given demographic projections that minority populations will outnumber white, Anglo-Saxon Americans by 2040 or 2050, there must be intentionality about bringing different voices into the conversation.
“In a democracy like we have in America, systematically oppressed peoples don’t have access to leadership in a lot of institutions that are making decisions that effect their every day lives,” he explains. “That becomes a problem when you have a large enough portion of the population who are presumably dissatisfied with the institution — be that the United States, the libraries, higher education, or whatever it may be.”
Schenk looks forward to the time where diversity is seen as a given, not an “add on.”
“So much organizational work focuses on mission and strategic plan, but diversity is an after thought — how does diversity fit into what's already been created?" he says. “I hope at some point diversity would just be assumed. That all of us together as a diverse society are solving problems, making advances and being creative together.”
Sarah Park Dahlan, assistant professor of Library and Information Science, wrote the faculty recommendation for Schenk.
“There are hardly any Native Americans in the library science profession, so being able to support Edwin’s growth as a student and professional is a real privilege for us,” says Dahlen. “He’s already contributed a wealth of knowledge on indigenous epistemology — ways of knowing and valuing that — when he spoke at our Native People in the Information Profession panel last spring.”
Other 2015–2017 ARL Diversity Scholars were selected from colleges and universities across the country, including the University of Washington, Kent State University and Simmons College. This is a second year in a row that a St. Kate’s MLIS student was named a Diversity Scholar.
“There are 62 library schools in the country, so to have St. Kate’s students win the scholarship two years in a row is significant,” Dahlen adds.
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in the United States and Canada with a mission to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve.