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Fellows selected for new grant-funded project designed to bolster humanities research skills for first-gen, transfer and students of color

June 21, 2022

Three fellows have been selected for The VCU Humanities Accelerated Library Fellows Program, a new summer internship funded by the American Library Association. 2022 fellows are: 

  • Clara Cardoso is an English major who will graduate in 2023. A first-gen student herself, Cardoso has found VCU Libraries invaluable. She has a deep interest in archives and special collections, and she hopes to pursue graduate work in library and information science.
  • Amaya McNeal is a rising senior pursuing a double major in sociology and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. She will graduate in 2023 and wants to study human-computer interaction at the master’s level to prepare for a career in user experience research and design. 
  • Moira Neve is an English major who will graduate in 2023. After the summer fellowship, Neve plans to study abroad in Ireland. Additionally, she hopes to study literature and language at the graduate level and eventually pursue a career in academia, either as a humanities research specialist or as a teacher in a university English department.  

Working out of the Academic Outreach department, the fellows will have varied duties over the summer, including planning and presenting at three large workshops focused on library skills for transfer, first generation and students of color. 

Their duties will include a combination of:

  •     Contributing ideas to library programming;
  •     Working in various departments in the library important to the humanities;
  •     Contributing to library social media projects;
  •     Drafting write-ups of library events and offerings;
  •     Collaborating with Humanities Research Librarian and library colleagues and
  •     Helping library patrons. 

The program allows undergraduates to experience working in James Branch Cabell Library under the direction of Humanities Research Librarian John Glover, History faculty member Rocío Gomez, and library workers with duties associated with the humanities. 

The broader intention of the project is to attempt to address cultural dynamics that create barriers within academic libraries. “We have encountered a challenging trend among students of color—uneasiness in spaces of higher education. Many students confess to not understanding how the library works or what its resources are,” Glover says. “Some students of color view the library as an inherently white, classist, and elitist space, a common problem across university campuses nationwide and within the profession itself. Consequently, some students of color have a difficult time accessing materials necessary to write research papers for humanities courses. Adding to the challenge, the low numbers of Black librarians in university libraries contributes to this unsettling feeling. Despite efforts, the space is seen as a place of study, not of active engagement with resources and librarians, particularly by some BIPOC students, as reflected in interpersonal interactions and repeated personal experiences.”

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News story providing background

Funds for the project are from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and are intended to help anchor libraries as strong humanities institutions as they emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. Libraries were selected for funding through a competitive, peer-reviewed application process. 

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