JJ Pionke Receives Grant Through Campus Research Board

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Applied Heath Sciences Librarian and Assistant Professor JJ Pionke of the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library, has been awarded a $20,805 grant from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Campus Research Board. This grant is for the collection and documentation of oral histories from presidents of the Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASGCLA).  

When asked about being awarded with the Campus Research Board Grant, Pionke stated, “I am excited to receive this grant to do this oral history work. Capturing the oral histories of DEIA leaders is important, not only for the history of librarianship, but also for us to acknowledge the work that has been done. Interviewing past ASGCLA presidents who are still living is critical. I believe that these oral histories will provide a treasure trove of information for the history of ALA and for the profession.” 

The ASGCLA was formed in 1977 with the merger of two American Library Association (ALA) divisions: the American Association of State Library Agencies and the Health and Rehabilitative Library Services Division. Another group for librarians who worked in non-traditional libraries, the Independent Exchange Round Table, was added to the ASGCLA in 1998. The Federal and Armed Forces Round Table was added in 2018. The librarians belonging to the ASGCLA served diverse populations such as people with disabilities, incarcerated populations, public health, the military, and other specialized libraries. The ASGCLA was disbanded in 2020 in ALA restructuring. 

The goal of this project is to collect the oral histories of the presidents of the ASGCLA to comprehend how minority librarians, and librarians who worked with minorities, traversed past discriminatory environments. The lessons learned by these leaders can be applied by library professionals today. Not only will these oral histories provide contextual insight into ASGCLA leaders’ experiences, but the profession can also utilize these oral histories as a foundation for future Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts. 

The recordings and transcriptions will be deposited into the ALA archives at UIUC. This will provide rich original source material for future research. A digital exhibit will also be created highlighting and celebrating the work of minorities within the librarianship profession and minority professions within librarianship.  

The beginning stages of this project are scheduled to start in 2023. 

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