Lawrence Public Library awarded nearly $100K to help BIPOC folks pursue careers in libraries

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Careers within the field of library professions are overwhelmingly held by white people. But thanks to a new grant totaling $93,950 from The Institute of Museum and Library Services — an independent federal government agency — the Lawrence Public Library will be part of a new program it hopes will change that, executive director Brad Allen said in a news release Monday.

“There are a lot of barriers to entering the profession, especially for marginalized folks,” Allen said. “The goal of this program is to break down those barriers and help recruit and retain a diverse workforce that reflects and represents our community.”

As part of the grant, a pipeline program will pay for two BIPOC community members to obtain master’s degrees in library science from Emporia State University. The program will run for two years and participants will be employed with paid internships at Lawrence Public Library for its duration.

Students will also visit partner sites so they can gain a variety of library experience, including KU Libraries, Tommaney Library at Haskell Indian Nations University, and the Northeast Kansas Library System. Details will be released soon on how to apply, LPL said Monday.

We’ve been on the edge of our seats since submitting our application, and I’m thrilled at the opportunities this program will bring to BIPOC members of our community,” Frankie Haynes, the library’s diversity and equity coordinator, said in a statement. “I hope that we can set an example for other libraries and show them that investing in diversity pays off.”

LPL staff applied for the grant early this year, and received official notification of the $93,950 funding award Friday. That funding is part of a total investment by the IMLS of $22.7 million in different library initiatives across the country.

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