Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

September 2010

Grant to Help NSU library Science Master's Program Target Rural Areas


A proposed master's degree program to train 20 school librarians to serve in high-poverty rural areas of northeast Oklahoma has resulted in an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant of $972,337 to Northeastern State University.

The proposal is now a project titled "Training 21st Century Library Media Specialists to Serve in Racially Diverse and Economically Disadvantaged Communities: Information and Management," but also bearing the shorter title "Project I'M READY." It will also provide annual conferences in northeast Oklahoma to discuss American Indian educational improvement, develop culturally sensitive curriculum resources for schools serving American Indian populations and make resources Web accessible. Maryetta Elementary School in Stilwell will assist the program.

NSU President Don Betz expressed gratitude for the expertise of faculty and staff to create the collaborative initiative.

"I am proud of the professionalism, creativity and commitment to service that the NSU library programs effectively presented to earn this level of national support," he said. "They have confirmed in a most relevant manner NSU's dedication to being a partner of choice in the growth and development in this region through continuous improvement and connection to local communities."

Dr. Pamela Louderback co-wrote the grant proposal and said its focus was creating a librarian program that incorporated remote distance education sites at K-12 schools in northeast Oklahoma. She said training librarians to work at schools among American Indian and socially or economically disadvantaged populations addressed three areas of concern.

"It would remove significant roadblocks to graduate education for place-bound rural community members," said Louderback. "It would also tailor candidate education to meet the needs of the targeted populations. Finally, it will develop critically needed culturally sensitive K-12 curriculum resources focused on improving educational success among at-risk students."

The grant was one of 38 given through the IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. NSU's award was the fifth largest and near the maximum. No grant exceeded $1 million.

The I'M READY grant will fund all facets of course instruction: supplies, materials, equipment, services, student support and instructors, as well as expenses associated with supporting the cooperation of Maryetta School.

Maryetta will offer its library and technological resources for online courses through NSU's library science program and provide a staff member who can direct activities and provide technical assistance. The school will also recruit 10 teachers to pursue NSU master's degrees in library science at Maryetta and allow for evening and weekend courses. The other 10 candidates will attend NSU.

Louderback said the I'M READY program is another way NSU uses federal or state funding to positively impact northeast Oklahoma – the institution's primary service area – where poverty and educational need are acute.

"Communities in northeast Oklahoma face tremendous social, educational and economic challenges that require enhanced opportunities to drive educational improvement and create an environment for sustainable economic development," she said.

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