Museum Joins Community-wide Educational Partnership to Recruit Future Librarians

More than 150 librarians, educators, friends and supporters gathered on Dec. 1, 2010 at the Cleveland Botanical Garden to celebrate a unique educational partnership among the Ingalls Library of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the School of Library and Information Science at Kent State University and the libraries of 18 other educational, medical and cultural institutions in the University Circle area of Cleveland.

The collaboration is the result of a federal grant of $522,908 awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the primary source of federal funding for libraries and museums in the United States, to Kent State, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the libraries of Case Western Reserve University as well as nine other partners. It will give 72 college undergraduates a hands-on introduction to the library profession, particularly in specialized areas of library science with a shortage of qualified people (e.g., art, health sciences, music and other specialized academic areas).

Betsy Lantz, director of Library and Archives at the Cleveland Museum of Art and a co-director of the project, said that this is a rare opportunity to work with a large group of institutions toward such a worthwhile goal. “Speaking on behalf of the University Circle libraries, it has become increasingly difficult to fill positions within subject specific libraries in recent years. We are very excited to have this collaborative opportunity to expose undergraduate students in a variety of meaningful ways to potential careers within the field of librarianship, especially the areas that require subject specialization. We are looking forward to being able to provide the students with real-life job experience by having them work alongside us within this rich array of libraries.”

Included with the Ingalls Library of the Cleveland Museum of Art in the partnership are the libraries and archives of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland Botanical Garden, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland Orchestra, Siegal College of Judaic Studies, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Law, CWRU School of Medicine, CWRU Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and six distinct areas within the Kelvin Smith Library at CWRU.

The Ingalls Library of the Cleveland Museum of Art will join with the Gund Library of the Cleveland Institute of Art to provide students interested in the field of art librarianship with experience in a large art museum library focused on the art historical and in an art and design school library. Students will be exposed to the various areas within the Ingalls Library including reference, cataloging, acquisitions, circulation, systems, archives, serials and processing and will be assigned specific projects as part of their internship.

Greg Byerly, Ph.D., associate professor in Kent State’s School of Library and Information Science and a co-director of the project, said the project will have a national impact as the partners create a model recruitment plan for attracting undergraduate college students, particularly minorities, to the library profession.

Initial recruitment efforts will target juniors and seniors at five different Northeast Ohio colleges and universities, although additional institutions will be added later. Over the three years of the grant, four cohorts of undergraduate students will take two three-credit courses, one each sequentially over two semesters. The first course will introduce students to the profession, particularly academic and special libraries, and the second will include a 100-hour supervised internship in the Ingalls Library of the Cleveland Museum of Art or one of the other 18 partner libraries.

The grant covers tuition costs for the courses, which will be provided online by Kent State’s School of Library and Information Science. Students will be able to transfer the six undergraduate credit hours from Kent State to their home institutions. Staff at the various University Circle libraries will assist in developing Kent State’s new museum studies program, and some will serve as adjunct faculty.

The Ingalls Library is the third largest art research library in the United States with over 456,000 volumes and is open to the public during normal business hours. The library supports research and learning and provides assistance to anyone seeking information on art. For more information about the Ingalls Library of the Cleveland Museum of Art, visit http://library.clevelandart.org/.


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