Knowledge River STREAMS On

By Gina Macaluso

Knowledge River (KR) is an educational experience within the School of Information Resources and Library Science (SIRLS) that focuses on educating information professionals who have experience with and are committed to the information needs of Latino and Native American populations.

Knowledge River fosters the understanding of library and information issues from the perspectives of Latino and Native Americans and advocates for culturally sensitive library and information services to these communities.  Since its inception, Knowledge River has become the foremost graduate program for training librarians and information specialists with a focus on Latino and Native American cultural issues. To date, over 158 scholars have graduated from this program. This was and still is a nationally unprecedented milestone that can be attributed to the outstanding support that scholars are provided with.

We are proud to report that the Knowledge River STREAMS program exceeded the goals articulated in the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century Library grant.  KR staff and management recruited and mentored students who received an education focused on creating culturally competent library information professionals serving Latino and Native American communities.  KR graduated and added 39 culturally competent LIS professionals to the library information profession with a 100% retention and graduation rate between 2011-2014. KR students were provided with financial support, professional work experience, professional development opportunities, and a culturally competent curriculum. Mentoring, cohort building activities, and professional development opportunities were also provided. In addition, a technological infrastructure was built and beta tested for KR Online, including training opportunities, and will become the leading digital resource for LIS diversity education.  Knowledge River STREAMS has been a successful model program seeking to address various gaps in the information profession.

Knowledge River will continue with three more years of support and funding from IMLS with project partners including The University of Arizona Libraries Special Collections, Arizona Health Sciences Library, Pima County Public Library, and The University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science. In Fall 2014, Connected Learning in Digital Heritage Curation will focus on connected learning by embedding students in graduate assistantships at cultural heritage institutions; providing hands-on application of theoretical and practical knowledge in face-to-face, online, and hybrid courses; and will involve students in professional development and networking activities. The chief goal of the KR program remains: increasing the number of librarians who have a documented interest in serving the major under-served populations of Arizona, the southwest and the nation – Latinos and Native Americans. Continuing digital innovations and practices along with marked demographic changes offer challenges to developing culturally competent LIS professionals. KR’s work will continue in both traditional libraries and archives and in new public digital spaces that also utilize emerging information technology. Knowledge River is excited about the next three years of educating new culturally competent LIS professionals.

KR is now accepting applications for the 2015 Fall semester Cohort 14! Please go online to find out more on how to apply for the Master’s of Arts in Library Information Science and for the current application for Knowledge River. Please email Assistant Professor Gina Macaluso for questions or more information.

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