Future Library and Information Studies Student Wins A Prestigious Diversity Scholarship

Lorisia MacLeod has a promising future ahead of her. In September 2016, she will start a master of library and information studies (MLIS) at the University of Alberta's School of Library and Information Studies, following in the footsteps of her father, a SLIS graduate, while exploring her cultural heritage.

Marjorie Henderson - 15 August 2016

On August 4, 2016 the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) announced that Lorisia MacLeod was one of 15 "Diversity Scholars" in North America for 2016-2018. As the only Canadian selected for this program, MacLeod says, "I'm honoured to be chosen. This award means a lot to both my family and me personally as an Indigenous student supporting my future studies at the U of A."

"The Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce continues ARL's tradition of a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion," said Beth McNeil, dean of university libraries at Iowa State and member of the selection committee. "This year's pool of applicants was exceptionally competitive and, with candidates of this calibre, a bright and sustaining future for research libraries is assured."

MacLeod will receive $10,000 in financial support, an ARL-selected mentor and the opportunity to attend the ARL leadership symposium in Atlanta, Georgia. This will go a long way to help her studies in September.

Following in her father's footsteps
As a recent graduate of the University of Alberta's MLIS program, MacLeod's own father, Kirk, frequently chatted with her about his studies and the program. They also would spend many hours discussing new electronic resources, informatics, big data, and techniques for archiving data. Her father is now working in the field as the Open Data Coordinator for the Government of Alberta.

After receiving her bachelor of arts in anthropology and french from the U of A, MacLeod's own curiosity about the field of library and information sciences got the best of her. After spending two years in the corporate world, she decided to return to school to pursue her studies in library and information studies.

Finding a world class graduate program that supports diversity
The next step was clear: find an MLIS program that would support her own academic interests and give her a safe space to explore her own cultural background. MacLeod said the U of A's MLIS program stood out from other options.

"It's their focus on world class research of data management and library and information studies, along with the program's focus on diversity," she said. "After talking with the faculty at U of A and my dad, I feel like they are clear academic leaders in Canada and the program really celebrates my Indigenous knowledge and culture." In addition to U of A's focus on world class research and supportive faculty members, she benefits from practical work experience.

In addition to being an ARL's Diversity Scholar, MacLeod is taking part in the U of A Libraries Indigenous Internship program. This is a joint initiative between the U of A's Libraries and the School of Library and Information Studies. For her "... this gives me and other future First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) students practical and inclusive learning opportunities to engage with the Indigenous community at the university and beyond." This is yet another unique example of the way the School of Library and Information Studies supports FNMI students.

With the advent of digital libraries, more and more data is being used and stored in multiple ways, and MacLeod sees her graduate program at the U of A's School of Library and Information Studies and ARL's diversity scholarship program as solid investments in her future.