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ODU Receives IMLS Grant to Help Public and School Librarians Acquire New Multicultural Skills and Perspectives

Old Dominion University will begin developing a continuing education center this fall where public and school librarians can acquire new multicultural skills and perspectives.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), on June 17, awarded ODU a three-year grant of $661,154 to create the Children and Youth Services Center. The grant is being matched with $533,703 from the university, which includes funding from the state Department of Education and indirect-cost contributions from ODU's Office of Distance Learning.

The university was among 33 institutions selected to receive one of the IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grants, which totaled $20.4 million.

"The commonwealth of Virginia is becoming increasingly ethnically and culturally diverse. As Virginia's population and cultures change, its public and school librarians must gain new multicultural knowledge and skills to provide better service to communities, and particularly to youth," said Carol Doll, ODU professor of teaching and learning and head of the Darden College of Education's library science program.

Doll, who submitted the grant proposal and will direct the new center, added: "The center will provide needed training for librarians throughout the commonwealth, using a variety of online, teleconferencing and face-to-face instructional delivery methods.

"An advisory board will help shape the initial and ongoing training curriculum to ensure its continuing relevance to the needs of the commonwealth's communities and libraries."

The center will be housed in the Darden College of Education.

"One of the most critical shortages among PK-12 educators in Virginia is the school librarian," said William Graves, dean of the college. "Dr. Doll and her colleagues, Dr. Gail Dickinson and Dr. Kaavonia Hinton-Johnson in the Department of Teaching and Learning, along with ODU's Office of Distance Learning, have developed a unique way to meet the needs of school librarians to serve an increasingly diverse and multicultural student body in Virginia's schools.

"This grant enables Old Dominion University, with the support of the Library of Virginia, to establish a continuing education center for librarians to acquire these new skills and perspectives and to recruit individuals who wish to meet the needs of these children and youth across the commonwealth of Virginia," Graves added.

Hinton-Johnson, who along with Dickinson is a co-principal investigator on the IMLS grant, said, "The grant provides an important opportunity to use 21st-century tools to explore issues around multiculturalism."

Taken together, the IMLS grants announced in June will help library students and staff to assist very young children in achieving early literacy; support libraries in rural communities; increase the number of school library media specialists; create more librarians with a specialty in government information services; increase diversity in the library workforce; and strengthen the workforce to better meet the needs of users of all types of libraries.

"The driving force behind any successful library is a staff of educated and dedicated library professionals," said IMLS director Anne-Imelda Radice, noting that the awards "will help support the next generation of library professionals in their academic and community-building endeavors."

Since its inception in 2002, the awards program has funded the education and training of 3,220 master's students, 186 doctoral students, 1,256 preprofessionals and 26,206 continuing education students. The program also supports grants for research related to library education and library staffing needs, curriculum development, and continuing education and training.

This article was posted on: June 29, 2009

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