Bridgette Billingslea, Kent State University
Recipient of the 2011-2012 ALAO Diversity Scholarship
The ALAO Diversity Scholarship helped tremendously with my LIS studies. I recently graduated with my MLIS from Kent State University on August 11, 2012. I am continuing my studies this autumn by working on my second Master’s degree in Health Informatics, also at Kent State University. The ALAO Diversity Scholarship acted as a bridge that connected me to beneficial resources, such as the ALAO Annual Conference in Toledo where I sat in on a lot of presentations and was able to meet new people and learn new things. I also traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana to attend the Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association where I met my ALAO diversity mentor, Sharon Purtee. My mentor was very communicative and approachable. She gave me good advice and helped me when I needed it. It really helps to have someone in the field as a mentor.
When I had difficulties finding a suitable practicum as required for graduation, I reached out to Diane Kolosionek, Chair of ALAO’s Diversity Committee. She arranged a meeting with Barbara Strauss, Assistant Director of Discovery Support Services at the Michael Schwartz Library at Cleveland State University. Barbara crafted a practicum experience for me that incorporated working with academic faculty, learning how to use the library’s electronic resources, and creating metadata to facilitate the publication of faculty works in the institutional repository at Cleveland State. As a result, I created a research guide using LibGuides (http://researchguides.csuohio.edu/hurston). This guide was tailored to fit an academic conference about Zora Neale Hurston in September 2012, as well as an academic class being taught during the upcoming year.
My advice to future scholarship recipients is to keep all of your options open, learn from all of your experiences, and if you need something academically or professionally don’t be afraid to ask. Librarians are very learned and approachable and generally always willing to help; but a “closed mouth does not get fed”, so don’t be afraid to ask. These experiences are a direct result of receiving the Diversity Scholarship from ALAO and I am grateful to have been chosen to receive it.