Jillian Cuellar, Mosaic Advisory Group Member 2014-12-02 11:15:33
While many archivists were packing their bags to travel to Washington, DC, for the 2014 Joint Annual Meeting of CoSA, NAGARA, and SAA last August, five graduate students were trading stories over lunch with Archivist of the United States David Ferriero. These five aspiring archivists made up the 2013–2014 cohort of the Mosaic Program, a joint initiative between the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and SAA that is now in its second year. About the Program Funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the Mosaic Program “promotes much-needed diversification of the archives and special collections professional workforce” by providing a comprehensive assistance package to graduate students who belong to underrepresented ethnic and racial groups.1 Applications for the Mosaic Program are solicited on an annual basis and evaluated by the Mosaic Program Selection Committee, a team of five archivists who assess the applicants’ potential for achievement, their dedication to the archives and special collections field, and their commitment to promoting a diverse profession. For the past several years, SAA has offered three awards and scholarships that serve to advance diversity in the archives profession, including the Mosaic Scholarship, which is separate from the Mosaic Program and provides tuition assistance and complimentary registration to SAA’s Annual Meeting.2 In addition to tuition assistance and complimentary registration, the Mosaic Program coordinates immersive learning experiences for the awardees. Each Mosaic fellow is placed in a year-long paid internship at an ARL-affiliated institution, where they work with professional archivists as they complete projects designed to enrich their academic coursework. During their internships, fellows are paired with established leaders in the archives and special collections field who serve as mentors. In addition to providing career guidance, the mentors help facilitate connections with other professionals at the host institution as well as across the profession. Through this enhanced internship experience, fellows have the opportunity to cultivate the skills and relationships necessary to secure a position in today’s competitive job market as they complete their degree program. Deborra Richardson, chair of the Mosaic Program Advisory Group, remarked, “I have seen the development of SAA’s commitment to diversity over several decades and this joint program offers the greatest opportunity to diversify the profession that the Society has been able to offer to date. The program should allow the Mosaic fellows speedier access to prospects for advancement and influence, which I believe will generate additionally varied perspectives to the professional landscape.” The Mosaic Leadership Symposium Mosaic fellows also receive funding to attend the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting and SAA’s Annual Meeting, where they participate in the ARL Leadership Symposium and the Mosaic Leadership Symposium, respectively. The 2014 Mosaic Leadership Symposium, a Day-long event organized by the program’s Advisory Group, was convened at the conference hotel on the Tuesday prior to the official start of SAA’s Annual Meeting. The agenda featured presentations and talks delivered by seasoned archivists from across the country, which addressed a variety of issues relevant to emerging professionals.3 Sessions included a panel discussion on career development strategies for an increasingly technology-driven field, an interactive session on applying for jobs and ensuring success at interviews, presentations on current initiatives to diversify the archival record, and guidance on professional engagement and service. A high point of the day for many of the fellows was a presentation by Tamar Evangelista-Dougherty, director of collections and services at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library. Evangelista-Dougherty offered the fellows valuable guidance on how to navigate the professional landscape as a person of color. Mosaic fellow Daniel Johnson was particularly inspired by her advice. Johnson said, “Tamar Evangelista- Dougherty [advised] to follow your passion in what you do, and don’t let others define your goals.” At noon, Ferriero joined the fellows for lunch to welcome them to the profession, answer questions, and offer his perspective on the field. Mosaic fellow Lauren Gaylord said of the experience, “Lunch with David Ferriero was an opportunity I never thought I’d get to have . . . One of the biggest Takeaways from our conversation was how everything, even scandals and hearings, are a chance to advocate for the important work that we do. It’s important to educate people about archives and records management and bring their role in our society into the spotlight.” As the symposium ended, lively conversations on diversity, professional development, and career strategies continued over dinner and drinks. For Mosaic fellow Karen Karyadi, the day’s experience gave her a new perspective as she enters the final year of her graduate program. Karyadi said, “If there is one thing that I learned from the symposium it was to network, network, network, and to not be afraid to approach people who are already seniors in the field . . . Chances are they are equally excited (if not more) to provide you with mentorship and help you establish connections.” Looking Forward As the first round of Mosaic fellowships comes to an end, the second cycle is just now beginning. A call for applications for the Mosaic Program’s final cycle will be released in January 2015, and the program’s administrators look forward to finding yet another exemplary group of graduate students who exhibit great promise as future leaders, and who will serve as advocates for a more diverse profession. Those involved in developing and implementing the Mosaic Program recognize, however, that in order to capitalize on the program’s success, archivists must continue to aggressively seek out opportunities that attract students from diverse backgrounds to the archives and special collections field and to find ways to support them throughout their education, and later, as engaged professionals. Richardson commented, “The current program is sponsored by IMLS and is slated to end with the 2015–2016 cohort. If SAA is to continue this commitment to diversify the profession, it is imperative that we find a way to sustain this program.” If archivists are truly committed to cultivating a professional community that more accurately reflects the varied experiences and backgrounds that make up our cultural heritage, then this is a responsibility that all of us, from the newly minted to established veterans, must take seriously. To paraphrase symposium speaker Omar Eaton-Martínez, intern and fellows program manager for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, diversity doesn’t just happen, it is an intentional effort. Notes 1 For detailed information regarding the Mosaic Program, visit ARL’s website at: http://www.arl .org/leadership-recruitment/diversity-recruitment /arl-saa-mosaic-scholarship-program. 2 SAA currently offers the Harold T. Pinkett Minority Student Award, which provides funding for travel to SAA’s Annual Meeting, the Josephine Forman Scholarship, which offers tuition assistance, and the Mosaic Scholarship, which offers both tuition assistance and free registration to the Annual Meeting. For a more complete historical overview of SAA’s minority recruitment efforts, see Harrison Inefuku’s recent article in Issue 11 of Synergy: News from ARL Diversity Programs, available at: http://www.arl.org/storage/documents /publications/synergy-issue-11.pdf. 3 The agenda for the 2014 Mosaic Leadership Symposium is available at: http://www.arl.org /storage/documents/arl-saa-mosaic-forum - agenda-8-12-2014.pdf.
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