Carroll County Times

McDaniel professor receives grant for library media master's program

A McDaniel College professor has received a grant that will fund school library media master's degrees for teachers in under-served regions of Maryland.

Professor of Library Science Ramona Kerby was the recipient of a 2012 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant for almost $240,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The money will help address the critical shortage of school librarians in certain Maryland regions.

"I feel blessed that the small, liberal arts college of McDaniel received the money," Kerby said.

In her proposal, Kerby stated that the school will use the grant to recruit 12 teachers or other currently employed school professionals to receive full program scholarships. Recipients will also receive funding to attend three conferences of the Maryland Association of School Librarians and the 2010 American Library Association/American Association of School Librarians standards for initial programs for school librarian preparation will be embedded into the coursework.

Henry Reiff, dean of Graduate and Professional Studies at McDaniel, said it is the third time the school has applied for the grant.

"It's a great example of persistence," he said.

This is McDaniel's attempt to reach out to schools across the state, and to the children who attend them, to provide a level of equity in learning.

"I think that what I'm really impressed with is the sense of outreach, of targeting populations that have traditionally been overlooked," Reiff said.

Thirteen school districts in the state do not have high numbers of librarians in their school buildings. Those counties are mostly located in the southern, eastern and western regions of the state, Kerby said.

The school library media master's degree program is currently offered at McDaniel as a mix of online and in-class learning, but will be made all online to make it easier for students who live far away from the college.

"I have women driving from the Eastern Shore coming to class," Kerby said. "I had people coming over the mountain from Washington County."

Kerby wanted to create a program that was tailor-made for Maryland librarians, who are sometimes far away from the colleges that provide library programs so they can feel connected to each other.

The scholarship application will be made available Aug. 1 on the college website.

Librarians are information and literature coaches at schools who help to instill a love for reading into students, Kerby said.

"I hope it makes school districts realize the power of a school librarian who can work with the teachers and the technology," she said.