For Lis Educators

The IMLS-funded Breaking Barriers project is designed to create and launch iBlackCaucus, a dedicated space for Black/African American students to be affirmed and supported as they matriculate through MLIS programs.

To ensure sustainability, iBlackCaucus will be sponsored and maintained by BCALA, Inc. The virtual, independent nature of this student organization will meet the needs of MLIS students, most of whom matriculate through their programs through distance education. Students will engage with exclusive programming and learning content while also connecting with Black/African American library professionals.

Given the growth of distance or online learning among U.S. colleges and universities and especially in MLIS programs, there is a need to identify new tactics for students’ professional development. While technology has been discussed as a vital component of LIS pedagogy, it is often taken for granted as a method for strengthening students’ social experiences. The shift in LIS education means that student involvement must also change.

Technology-based student organizations can mitigate the solitary nature of online education while also reinforcing technological competencies and supporting connections that, because of their digital nature, can last beyond their graduate study. This notion is supported by research conducted by Al-Daihani (2009) on the use of social media by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee LIS students. Based on the study’s findings, the majority of students deemed online social networking favorable for their professional growth and social inclusion; most were frequent users of social media or online digital tools.

BCALA has the opportunity to embrace the digital nature of LIS education and, in doing so, provide robust, virtual support. Our organization can and should approach Student Chapters differently by taking BCALA where LIS students are: online. This is particularly important in light of the field’s imperative to increase ethnic/racial inclusion and representation within the library and information professions.

Similarly, there must be LIS program-independent recruitment material to promote librarianship among Black/African American communities. Inattention to promotion negates efforts to foster a supportive space for Black MLIS students. Stated differently, BCALA’s endeavors to connect with students must be cyclical or sustained through both community-building and fervent recruitment.

Supporting Black MLIS students necessitates rich engagement, and this essential work can not be left to LIS programs alone. Therefore, our three project outcomes are as follows:

Outcome 1: Strengthen BCALA’s support for MILS student members

Outcome 2: Design and launch an online organization to augment Black MLIS students’ experiences

Outcome 3: Recruit Black MLIS prospects to the LIS profession

Black Library Excellence

Established in 1970, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) was formed to serve as an advocate for the development, promotion, and improvement of library services and resources to the nation’s African American community; and to provide leadership for the recruitment and professional development of African American librarians.

Contact bcala
P.O. Box 174, New York, NY 10159-0174
Phone: 917-856-8923