Grant funding will increase the Fellowship Program’s ability to recruit, train, and support a diverse workforce in law libraries
The Daniel F. Cracchiolo Law Library at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law has been awarded a three-year $367,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Funding will be used to expand the Library’s Fellowship program in an effort to address the lack of growth in the number of law librarians across the country who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and from historically excluded groups, as well as address the small number of librarians entering the legal information field generally.
Established in 2000, the Law Library Fellows Program is the first and only fully-experiential, one-to-two year law librarianship training program in the country, providing each Fellow hands-on experience working alongside seasoned colleagues. The program provides Fellows a salaried, part-time position in the Library, and tuition remission towards their Master’s in Library and Information Science (MLIS).
“The impact of the Fellows program on the law library, the Fellows themselves, and the law library community cannot be understated.” said Teresa Miguel-Stearns, Associate Dean of Legal Information Innovation and Director of the Library. “Many of our Fellows tell us they would not have pursued a master’s degree if it hadn’t been for the Fellows program because of the time and financial burdens involved in obtaining another degree. The impact on the Law Library is immense. Our Fellows come to us with fresh eyes, new ideas, abundant energy, and an excitement to learn. Just having them in our space makes for a fun workplace daily.”
The IMLS award is funding a program manager who will recruit two additional Fellows while creating a remote fellowship opportunity open to law libraries across the country.
“Law Librarianship, like many other service professions, is facing declining numbers, so our program ensures a consistent influx of new librarians each year — and with this IMLS grant, we will invite all law libraries around the country (not just academic law libraries) to collaborate with us, host a Fellow, and participate in recruiting, educating, and diversifying the next generation of law librarians,” said Miguel-Stearns.
Expanding the program nationally develops a new and innovative pathway to the profession – one that will not require a student to move to Tucson, yet who will still be able to take advantage of the Fellows Program and its many educational, experiential, and financial benefits.
The Library seeks to become a leader in diversifying the workforce by expanding traditional pathways to the professional as well, thus making a career in law libraries more accessible to more people while lowering the time and financial burdens of higher education. In collaboration with the UA School of Information, the law library team has developed a dual degree JD/MLIS and a BA in Law with an accelerated MLIS. Both programs take a full year off a student’s educational trajectory and students in each pathway are eligible for the Law Library Fellows Program. The team is now working on a dual master’s degree: master’s of legal studies / MLIS.
“Aside from an abundance of scientific literature attesting to greater levels of success of workforce teams in every profession that are more diverse, we want our law students — who are a highly diverse group — to see themselves reflected in the people who are eager to teach them legal research skills and help them navigate the information landscape,” said Miguel-Stearns. “We believe we can make a difference given the support we have from the College of Law, the School of Information, and the infrastructure in place at the University of Arizona that we can now leverage to recruit a more diverse law library workforce.”
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America's museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. IMLS envisions a nation where individuals and communities have access to museums and libraries to learn from and be inspired by the trusted information, ideas, and stories they contain about our diverse natural and cultural heritage. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.