Librarian-in-Residence Program Expanded

A grant of $220,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will allow Yale to expand its Librarian-in-Residence program, which brings talented minority librarians to New Haven for a two-year term. Thanks to the new funding just announced by the Mellon Foundation, the Yale library system will add a second resident to the program which started in 1995 with the aim of increasing the diversity of experience among librarians at Yale and furthering the professional growth of individual minority librarians.

The four-year grant will result in the presence of two residents at Yale concurrently, increasing the effectiveness of the program by helping the diversity of the staff reflect and reinforce the diversity of the readers.

In announcing the grant, President Richard C. Levin noted, “Yale has yet another reason to be enormously grateful for the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Through this grant, the Trustees of the Mellon Foundation support Yale’s commitment to affirmative action and help us achieve our goal of maintaining a diversified work force. We are proud to be part of a program aimed at diversifying this country’s next generation of academic librarians and thereby enabling an environment capable of sustaining intellectual discovery.”

“I am immensely pleased with the program’s early success and am just delighted the Mellon Foundation is willing to support this worthwhile initiative,” said University Librarian Scott Bennett. “Data published in 1997 by the Association of Research Libraries indicates 11.28 percent minority representation in the professional ranks of its member libraries. While Yale’s program alone will not profoundly affect this statistic, it is an important signal to the national research library community and to individual minority librarians that staff diversity is critical and must be pursued vigorously.”

In describing the program, Diane Y. Turner, director of Library Human Resources, notes that librarians-in-residence serve a two-year postgraduate appointment in the campus library system. Whenever possible, specific assignments reflect the resident’s interests and aspirations as well as the library’s need to support program innovation. Residents also receive travel support and participate in administrative assignments, library committees, specialized training and professional activities. In 1996, Turner noted, “The competition with other institutions to find minority librarians has been fierce.” Despite that, the two national searches conducted since the program was launched have yielded a distinguished pool of candidates. “The message is clear in the library community – Yale is committed to increasing minority representation in the profession and to offering minority librarians the opportunity to develop their skills in one of the finest academic libraries in the nation.”

After nine months as the library’s second librarian-in-residence, Ethelene Whitmire commented, “I am very glad to have the opportunity to gain valuable experience by working in the Yale University Library. I enjoy my work here and benefit enormously from the expertise and knowledge of my colleagues. Being able to use the resource-rich libraries for my own reading pleasures is an added bonus.” Whitmire came to Yale from the University of Michigan where she is a doctoral candidate in higher education. She chose to interrupt that course of study to take advantage of Yale’s librarian-in-residence program. As her first assignment, Ms. Whitmire is working with the associate university librarian responsible for reader services to assess, evaluate and identify areas for improvement in the various reference and instructional services offered in Yale’s main research library, Sterling Memorial Library, and its intensive-use library, Cross Campus. Since October, she has also been working in the Kline Science Library as a reference librarian.

Raquel V. Cogell, Yale’s first librarian-in-residence, came to the University from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, having earned her B.A. degree in English from Prairie View A&M University in Texas and her M.L.S. degree from UCLA. After completing two one-year assignments at Yale that were very different from her experience at the Schomburg Center, Cogell has gone on to a reference librarian position at the Emory University Library.

“Her experience is a wonderful example of what the Librarian-in-Residence program is all about,” said Bennett. “An intelligent and talented minority librarian was drawn to the program. She experienced new challenges within her chosen profession, learned from her colleagues here and offered librarians already at Yale a fresh perspective and keen insight. At the end of her residency, Raquel went on to an important position at another research library, but one in an area of librarianship very different from what she had imagined for herself before her time at Yale. With the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, we will have twice as many opportunities to create similar experiences for other minority librarians, ultimately having a positive, long-term effect on minority representation in librarianship.”

A highly valued partner in teaching and research at the University, the Yale Library has more than 10.5 million volumes and extensive non-book collections housed in its main library and 16 school and department libraries. A full spectrum of library resources, from rare books and manuscripts to a rapidly expanding network of electronic resources, constitutes one of Yale’s distinctive strengths.

Recruitment for the resident position funded through the Mellon grant will begin shortly.

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