Brown’s partnership with HBCU Libraries received $ 100,000



The university library’s partnership with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Library Alliance recently received a $ 100,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to establish the “Stronger Together, Leading Through Community” program. The initiative will prepare a cohort of librarians to implement community leadership in their work, according to a press release from the University.

For a small class of six librarians and archivists, the pilot year of the program will include the implementation of a socially conscious curriculum, one-on-one mentoring in specific areas of interest, virtual conversations with colleagues from different institutions within the partnership and in-person site visits. to other libraries. The program will be co-led by Sandra Phoenix, Executive Director of the HBCU Library Alliance, and Amanda Strauss, Associate Librarian for Special Collections at the University.

The university became the first non-HBCU institution of the HBCU Library Alliance in November 2020. According to Strauss, this grant constitutes the “first publicly tangible element of our partnership”.

“It is designed to be a true partnership and a true place where there will be mutual learning between the Brown University Library (and) the HBCU Library Alliance,” said Kenvi Phillips, Director of Diversity, equity and inclusion of libraries.

“We keep it small at the start, so that we can provide a deeply experiential and relational (program),” Strauss said. “I think of this grant almost in terms of fellowship because you learn from someone” at a more relaxed pace.

“Collaborating with Brown University to support leadership development and continue our mission of strengthening HBCU libraries and their staff sets the stage to advance our work together,” Phoenix said in the press release.

After receiving the grant in July, the initiative team, led by Phoenix and Strauss, embarked on a six-month period of logistical work – preparing the program, formulating the steering committee and recruiting the first class of librarians, according to Strauss. . After the first cohort has participated in the one-year program, the team will spend four to six months evaluating and preparing for the future of the program. Strauss hopes this thoroughness will maximize the impact of the program.

“I really, really believe in the potential of this program, and I want to see it become a permanent fixture in the library leadership landscape,” said Strauss.

Phillips noted that this program strengthens the “true partnership” between Brown and the HBCU Library Alliance by valuing the unique contributions of each partner.

As a Howard University alumnus, Phillips believes it is essential for institutions to learn “values, lessons and practices” from HBCUs. She said she believes the University’s partnership with the HBCU Library Alliance will encourage other institutions to form inter-institutional partnerships with the HBCUs.

“It is very important to me that we do this work seriously and honestly to help support the work of HBCUs as well as to improve ourselves as an institution,” said Phillips. “I’m thrilled to be part of a project that can connect me quite directly to the HBCUs and the work they do. “

Team members agree that this program will benefit university librarians, faculty and students by inspiring the library to think critically and improve its internal practices.

“Developing our professional skills and knowledge through partnering with our colleagues at HBCU will impact the library student experience in a variety of ways and help us advance the kinds of opportunities and projects for students that we we are striving to develop. Said Joseph Meisel, university librarian of the Joukowsky family.

Strauss believes this program is necessary at a time of “great friction and civil unrest”, citing libraries as “an essential part of university infrastructure”.

“Libraries and collection-based institutions are places where access to information and knowledge is selected and managed,” Strauss said. “It’s not a neutral process. We need to have library leaders who are imbued with these principles and who directly influence student experience and faculty research. “

Those who facilitate the program foresee a positive impact that will only grow as the program grows.

“We are bringing together two gigantic networks: the networks we are connected to here at Brown University and the (HBCU) and HBCU Library Alliance networks and resources,” Strauss said. “We’ve never combined these in this way before. We don’t really know where it’s going to lead, but I know it’s going to be something incredible.

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