Like many second-year Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) students, Stephen Krueger is regularly perusing job postings, planning for life after he graduates from the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) in May. Krueger said he is glad to see that many of these job descriptions specifically request experience or interest in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion, values to which Krueger is personally committed and has actively championed during his time at SILS.
Krueger’s outstanding work, particularly as the facilitator for the SILS student organization CheckedOut, earned him the 2017 University Diversity Graduate/Professional Student Award. He and recipients from other categories were recognized at the annual University Diversity Awards Ceremony on April 4 at Wilson Library.
“Stephen Krueger is a bridge builder between communities of all sorts,” said SILS Professor Paul Jones, chair of the SILS Diversity Committee on which Krueger served. “A leader in CheckedOut and at SILS, he has been a campus-wide presence dedicating endless patience to ways of introducing us to each other.”
Krueger said he endeavored to make CheckedOut a group that embodied the social justice side of library and information science. “Diversity programs have always been important in library work, and the current social and political environment makes them even more so,” he said.
Under Krueger’s direction, CheckedOut hosted discussions, often focusing on topics that had recently been in the news, and introduced the CheckedOut book club. Each meeting highlighted works from different genres - including poetry, young adult novels, and picture books - that readers thought conveyed important messages about diversity. All students, faculty, and staff were welcome to attend and share their favorites. For the evening’s focusing on literature for young people, Checked Out partnered with COYL (Coalition of Youth Librarians) for an enhanced discussion.
Krueger regularly compiled and shared information with the SILS community about University and other local activities that could help deepen people’s understanding of diversity issues. He also made sure CheckedOut was an active partner in the Art and Welcoming Night organized by the Muslim Students Association and the LGBTQ Center in September 2016. The event was convened in part to give students returning to campus for the fall an opportunity to reflect on the repercussions of the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub over the summer.
“The reading groups were an easy and low-stress way to get people talking about diversity and social justice through the lens of literature; I enjoyed seeing what people brought to share and discuss,” Krueger said. “For larger events, working with the Muslim Students Association to host a solidarity evening felt like an effective way of addressing difficult issues. I found that the ongoing activities kept the group active, while the larger one-time events allowed us to respond to specific community needs.”
As the master’s student representative on the SILS Diversity Committee, Krueger played an integral role in updating and revising the requirements for SILS Diversity Certificate, which offers formal recognition to students who are active in making SILS and the ILS profession more diversity-friendly. Krueger worked with the committee chair to help clarify the instructions and deliverables, so the process of earning the certificate would be more transparent and beneficial.
Krueger also worked with the SILS faculty and administration to develop a special topics course on information services in a diverse society. He surveyed students to gauge interest, approached professors about teaching the subject, and met with the dean to help obtain approval for the course. Krueger even focused his master’s paper research on evaluating the extent to which the SILS curriculum covers diversity, equity, and inclusion, using course syllabi and schedules from 2015 to 2017.
A native of Vermont, Krueger has lived on and off in North Carolina since completing his undergraduate degree at Warren Wilson College. He discovered a love for academic librarianship as an undergraduate student assistant, and spending the summer of 2016 as a fellow at UNC-Charlotte’s Atkins Library helped affirm his career trajectory. The position gave him a chance to work full-time on a focused project, collection development for the health sciences, and he shared a poster about his work at the 2016 Charleston Library Conference.
With graduation approaching, Krueger is looking at jobs in academic libraries, specifically positions in tech services or scholarly communications. “There is a great deal of opportunity for equity and inclusion work in the academic environment, and I definitely plan to keep incorporating it into my professional and volunteer positions,” he said.
Accepting his award at the April 4 ceremony, Krueger praised the event for raising awareness of the ongoing need for social justice work, something he has felt keenly as a transgender person living in North Carolina during the implementation of House Bill 2.
“Visibility matters and this kind of recognition goes a long way towards making those of us who do the work and those of us affected by it feel known in our work and our identities,” he told the crowd.
Krueger is the second SILS student in as many years to earn university-level recognition for contributions to the advancement of diversity. In 2016, Jeremy McKellar (BSIS ’16) received an Undergraduate Student Award for his work as President of the Black Student Movement and involvement with the MLK I Have a Dream Photo campaign and Project Uplift.
UPDATE 5/7/2017: The UNC LGBTQ Center presented Krueger the LGBTIQ Advocacy Award at its Lavender Graduation on Sunday, May 7. Only one graduate or professional student and one undergraduate student are selected to receive the honor each year.