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Spotlight on PLA 2024 Conference Scholarship Recipients

by on February 14, 2024

Check out some of the incredible recipients of the 115 scholarships awarded to public library professionals and students to attend the PLA 2024 Conference, taking place April 3-5 in Columbus, Ohio! With this year’s increase in the number of scholarships available and expanded qualifying categories, the scholarship recipients include early career and un/under-employed library workers, students pursuing a master’s degree in library and/or information science, small and rural library workers, current and past Spectrum Scholars working in public libraries, and National Associations of Librarians of Color (NALCo) members.

Read the press release here.

The full list of scholarship recipients may be found here.

We heard from some recipients about their goals in the public library world and what they’re looking forward to learning at the conference. Keep reading!

  • “I see the need to cross-reference my experience working in a public library here [in Florida] with that of others where similar [intellectual freedom] challenges affect civil servants and library workers dedicated to this cause. My goal is to create an agile and responsive network that can check in with each other beyond the conference in our day-to-day lives, beyond the confines of our respective occupations.” – Selome Brathwaite, Customer Experience Librarian at Jacksonville (Fla.) Public Library
  • “I aspire to learn about grants and other funding programs that cater to public libraries. As I currently navigate issues with censoring, I’d benefit from learning the tactics that other public librarians and libraries, of all sizes, are using to combat and recover from censorship instances and challenges as they increase. Furthermore, attending this conference will grant me a unique opportunity to meet and network with other public librarians who may be facing many of the challenges that I face daily.” – Kimberly Clayton, Librarian at Monroe (Ga.) County Library 
  • “I’m interested in the panel presentations about book bans and protecting access at PLA, but I’m especially interested in talking with other library workers to learn how they’re preparing for what we’re going through. Being able to advocate for our patrons’ right to read books that reflect their lives and assure them that they are not alone is the most important part of my job right now, and I want to make sure I have the knowledge to do right by my community.” – Joseph Dellosa, Librarian at Palm Beach (Fla.) County Library System
  • “Attending PLA will help connect me to other librarians working in the area of DEI. I am the only librarian in my system holding this responsibility and I need to connect with others who are doing this same work in public libraries.  I hope to gain the network , skills, and strategies to better advocate for my role and the communities I serve.” – Luisa Leija, Senior Librarian of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion/ Multilingual Collections at Long Beach (Calif.) Public Library
  • “Given the size of our local library, we face challenges that larger public libraries might not encounter. We want to ensure that whatever we invest in truly benefits our community before committing our limited resources. Attending the 2024 PLA conference is a chance for us to tackle this challenge head-on.” – Eli Millette, Youth Services Supervisor at Burton (Ohio) Public Library
  • “My long-term goal is to support Indigenous students and queer folx going through an MLIS program by developing LIS curriculum that centers these communities. As I have navigated my MLIS program, I have found my school lacks the curriculum that supports these groups…. Being selected as a PLA Scholarship recipient not only means supporting my journey to uplift these communities but also expanding the profession to guide additional queer BIPOC folx into the profession as well.” – Marcus Ortiz, MLIS student at SJSU School of Information & Library Associate at Arlington (Va.) Public Library
  • “As one of the country’s only public library LGBTQIA+ Services Specialists, I possess a unique professional purview. As members of my community—but particularly trans youth and trans people of color—face legislative and physical assaults at unprecedented rates, I seek to learn innovative best practices for helping my library system remain a space where all are free to belong…. From supporting the Stonewall generation to crafting tangibles like an EDI toolkit, each session in PLA aligns directly with a specific directive in my job description or upcoming professional project. Truly, I would struggle to craft my own itinerary for a conference that more closely aligns with my current and immediate professional goals and needs than does PLA 2024.” – Jordan Ostrum, LGBTQIA+ Services Specialist at Dayton Metro (Ohio) Library
  • “I believe in the transformative power of libraries as community hubs for learning, connection, and empowerment. Through my active involvement in professional development and my ongoing commitment to staying abreast of emerging trends and best practices, I strive to make a meaningful and lasting impact in the field of librarianship. I look forward to the opportunity to engage with and learn from other passionate professionals at the PLA Conference.” – Evangelina Peña, Library Information Assistant at New York Public Library
  • “Learning how to effectively advocate for the underrepresented groups in the community and diversifying our small rural library is at the forefront of my professional growth. Being able to talk and collaborate with library professionals at the PLA 2024 Conference would be impactful for me by exponentially expanding my knowledge of the breadth of programs, services, and outreach offered at public libraries around the country. Even though PLA is on a national scale, there are many ways to scale down ideas to fit rural libraries.” – Sara Porter, Youth Programming and Outreach Services at Coloma (Mich.) Public Library

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