Wayne State University School of Information Sciences Associate Professor Kafi Kumasi has been awarded an IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program award of $247,152 for “Project RUSL: Restoring Urban School Libraries." The project will provide education and professional development for six diverse classroom teachers who work in the Harper Woods and River Rouge school districts. The teachers will become certified school librarians and build capacity to restore the school libraries in their respective buildings.
“School library media professionals are integral to improving student achievement —they’re the literacy leaders we need to inspire and engage urban youth” said Jon E. Cawthorne, dean of the Wayne State University Library System and current president of the Association of College and Research Libraries.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to bridge cultural disconnects that many urban students experience with traditional school and public library spaces, where they don’t see themselves reflected in the collections, programming or staffing,” said Kumasi. “There is great potential to create a flexible and innovative model that can be replicated by other schools facing similar realities.”
During their certificate coursework and immersive practicum experience, the participants will receive on-demand, online professional development and mentorship from school library leaders drawn from participants in the Lilead Project, a national leadership development program for school library supervisors. The participants will also partner with their respective public libraries to develop a book-lending and cooperative resource-sharing policy.
Project RUSL will also build a video library of evidence-based practices of school librarianship and culturally responsive pedagogy based on Kumasi’s INFLOmation model, a hip-hop inquiry-based approach to school library instruction that helps capture and facilitate youth’s culturally specific information-creating behaviors in ways that mimic and flow out of hip-hop culture.
In a joint statement, Derrick R. Coleman, superintendent of the River Rouge School District, and Steven McGhee, superintendent of Harper Woods School District, said: “This grant will simultaneously provide both the school district and our local public library system with a synergy to re-engage a generation of people that may not understand the library is more than a space that holds a collection of books. We look forward to this partnership with Wayne State and are excited to prepare our teachers to continue a tradition of service so deeply woven into the culture of learning in this country.”
The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development and research helps libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit imls.gov.
The Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program (LB21) supports developing a diverse workforce of librarians to better meet the changing learning and information needs of the American public by enhancing the training and professional development of library and archives professionals; developing faculty and library leaders; and recruiting educating, and retaining the next generation of library and archives professionals.
The Wayne State University Library System consists of the university's five libraries: The David Adamany Undergraduate Library, the Purdy/Kresge Library, the Shiffman Medical Library, the Arthur Neef Law Library and the Reuther Library as well as the School of Information Sciences.
Wayne State University is a premier institution offering nearly 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 27,000 students.