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By encouraging the newest generations of racially and ethnically diverse librarians to participate in the Spectrum Scholarship Program, the American Library Association validates its commitment to diversity and inclusion and positions the ALA to take the lead in the transformation of libraries and library services.


Dr. Betty Turock discovered a lesson she would never forget while working as a librarian in Winston-Salem, North Carolina: “Separate and equal” does not exist, but “separate and unequal” does. Thus began her commitment to collaborating with those who truly care about ensuring that equality is at the core of all communities, such as the Black Panthers. Betty presided over the American Library Association as president in 1995–1996. She traveled more than 300,000 miles during that period and spoke before the Federal Council on Communication and Congress to focus the advocacy of the American people on Equity on the Digital Highway, and reasonable and equal access to digital data for all citizens of the country.

Elizabeth Martinez, who served as the ALA’s executive director from 1994 to 1997, is renowned for her inspirational leadership, ground-breaking concepts, and support of cultural diversity. Elizabeth established REFORMA, The National Association to Encourage Library information Assistance to Latinos and the Spanish Language, and the Council to Recruit Mexican American Library staff in California. She did this in partnership with Dr. Arnulfo Trejo. At the invitation of President E. J. Josey, she co-chaired the first ALA diversity policy, “Equity at Issue,” in 1986 with Binnie Tate Wilkin.

As American Library Association executives, these two moral risk-takers came together to forge a partnership that significantly altered ALA. Their fervent desire to see a more diversified workforce resulted in the successful establishment of the Spectrum Initiative.

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Turock identified diversity and fairness as her two main issues in her President’s Speech to the Executive Board at their autumn 1995 Conference (American Libraries March 1996).

The foundations of a diversity effort were identified to “replace ALA’s past occasional interest with long term commitment” in a position statement and agenda for ALA that were generated by a series of Diversity Summits she held with members from all Association ethnic affiliates. Raising a sizable sum of money for minority grants and creating a staff post for a diversity officer was among the objectives mentioned. Camila Alire, Cesar Caballero, Naomi Caldwell-Wood, and Gloria Leonard, the chair of the Council Review panel on Minority Concerns and Cultural Diversity, led a working group for the Presidential Initiative that developed a strategy for encouraging cultural diversity in the workplace and within the American Library Association. At the Executive Board’s Midwinter Meeting in January 1996, that strategy was given primary priority.

The history of Betty Turock’s presidential-diversity agenda is linked to Spectrum, a historic Association initiative, in the article “Diversity: the 21st Century Spectrum” (American Libraries March 1997) by Martinez. Martinez writes: “Following the decided lead by past-president Betty Turock with her presidential-diversity agenda, the Executive Board made a bold move at its fall 1996 meeting and demanded a proposal from the executive director to use up to $1.5 of the undeclared Future In that plan, it was suggested that funds be provided for the education of 50 minority students every year, that a Leadership Institute is held every year to train future professionals, and that an advisory group is established to oversee the newly launched effort. The Executive Board’s meeting in spring 1997 adopted it as the Spectrum Initiative (EBD #12.12).

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ALA President-Elect Barbara Ford outlined the organizational framework required to support Spectrum at the 1997 Annual Conference in San Francisco in the report “Spectrum Initiative: Next Steps.” Ford appointed the Steering Committee, which was comprised of Khafre K. Abif, Mengxiong Liu, Diana Morales, Virginia M. McCurdy, Loriene Roy, Pamela G. Spencer, James F. Williams, II, and Kenneth A. Yamashita, to oversee the newly created Initiative. There would be fifty Spectrum Scholars in the inaugural class in just one year!

spectrum scholarship


The Spectrum Scholarship Program actively seeks out and awards scholarships to American Indian Native, Asian, Black/African American, Latinas, Middle Eastern, North African, and/or Native Afro – Caribbean Pacific Islander students in an effort to help them pursue graduate degrees and leadership roles within the industry and ALA.

For qualified rising college juniors who identify as Chinese Islander, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American and have financial needs, there is a program called Spectrum Scholars. Twenty college students receive $20,000 apiece as part of the yearly scholarship program, with half receiving their scholarships during their junior and senior years.


Being qualified for a Spectrum Scholarship entails:

A) The applicant must be an American or Canadian citizen or legal resident of either country.

B) The applicant must be a Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Black or African American, Asian, Hispanic or American Indian, or Alaska Native.

C) The applicant must enroll in either an NCATE School Library Media program or a graduate program in library and information science that has received ALA recognition.


D) The applicant must begin their studies in a recognized program no later than September 1st or the Fall Term immediately after receiving the grant.

E) Applicants may be employed full- or part-time.


Interested persons should visit the scholarship link here

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