Six University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science (SILS) master’s students will have the opportunity to study librarianship in Europe this summer thanks to the Baker & Taylor Scholarships for SILS summer seminars.
Rebecca Williams and Anne Harding have each received a full scholarship, which covers the cost of program registration, academic credit, housing and some meals, and provides an $850 stipend to defray the cost of travel. Sara Thomas, Ebony McDonald, Sara Paschal, and Olivia Dorsey have received partial scholarships to help with their expenses.
Three of the students are registered for the summer seminar in Prague, which SILS administers in partnership with Charles University, and three students will take part in the London seminar, conducted in partnership with University College London. Open to both students and professionals, these two-week seminars explore the heritage of two of Europe's most vibrant, historic, and culturally rich cities. The 2015 seminars are scheduled for May 17-May 30.
Harding, a first-year MSLS student interested in using innovative technologies to support work in archives and cultural heritage institutions, will be traveling to London.
“I am especially looking forward to learning more about the pioneering digital humanities initiatives at University College London,” she said. “I never had the chance to study abroad as an undergraduate, and I would not have been able to participate in a program like this without financial support, so I am extremely grateful that Baker & Taylor has once again made it possible for students to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity.”
Williams, who is also finishing her first year in the MSLS program, said her interest in archives and cultural memory motivated her to register for the Prague seminar.
“The chance to visit Prague, a meeting place of the east and the west, was irresistible,” she said. “I am very excited to visit all of the wonderful libraries over the course of our trip. Perhaps most of all, I am excited to learn and to have my ideas challenged, broadened, and changed.”
Without the Baker & Taylor Scholarship, Williams said she would not be looking forward to such opportunities. “Receiving this scholarship has really been the difference between going and not going,” she said. “I am extremely grateful for this gift.”
Thomas and McDonald will also be going to Prague. For Thomas, it will be her first experience traveling abroad.
“The Prague seminar will give me the opportunity to learn about libraries in a historical and cultural context totally different from the ones I have experienced in the U.S.,” she said. “I'm looking forward to meeting people passionate about libraries and gaining perspective on what role libraries play in Czech communities.”
McDonald said she was drawn to the theme of the Prague seminar: information access in a newly democratic nation.
“I am looking forward to understanding the intersection between the Czech Republic’s socio-political history and information access as well as how this history has been well-preserved in the cityscape and cultural institutions of Prague,” she said. “I am very interested in diversity, outreach, and international librarianship and project management.”
After completing her MSLS at SILS, McDonald hopes to work at an institution geared towards international public service in a position that allows her to travel and use her language skills (she is proficient in four languages including English) in a project-based capacity.
Paschal and Dorsey will be joining Harding in London.
“I decided to sign up for the London Seminar for three reasons,” said Paschal, a first-year MSLS student. “First, studying marketing in Lyon, France, as part of my undergraduate program was the most inspiring experience I have ever had and I hope to repeat that experience for my graduate degree. I would also love to eventually find myself working in a library or museum in Europe. Finally, I am simply fascinated by the extensive history of the U.K. and the world that is preserved between the pages of some of London's oldest book collections. I am looking forward to visiting the city that is the setting of so many great stories and meeting some of the people who care for the books that contain those stories.”
Dorsey, who graduated from the SILS BSIS program in 2014 and is now in the MSIS program, is interested in learning more about how London preserves and presents history in its museums and libraries and how that differs from their digital representations of history.
“As someone who is passionate about the field of the Digital Humanities, having the opportunity to learn at the University College London, a leader in the field, was not one that I could easily pass up,” she said.
Dorsey said the Baker & Taylor Scholarship “embodies opportunity.”
“It is the opportunity to go to a new country, the opportunity to delve into a new culture, and the opportunity to learn so much more about the field I want to work in,” she said. “As an undergraduate student, I was not fortunate enough to be able to study abroad and receiving this assistance of this scholarship means more than words can say.”