Libraries Diversity Residency Program announces inaugural appointments

The University Libraries have launched a new Diversity Residency Program to help prepare recent graduates for leadership positions in the field of librarianship. The inaugural resident librarians, Rachel Smith and Mohamed Berray, begin their two-year program at Penn State on Aug. 19. Smith and Berray will initially work in the Research Hub, providing advanced research services for faculty and students in business, and the behavioral and social sciences. In future assignments, they will rotate through the libraries in order to help them build a broad portfolio of experience to ground their future career development. Both Smith and Berray are recent graduates of the Library and Information Studies program at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro (UNCG).

Barbara I. Dewey, dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communication, explained, “Libraries serve everyone, regardless of background, and our librarians should come from all backgrounds to help reach diverse constituencies. Rachel and Mohamed are exceptional librarians and we are thrilled to have them join us.”

According to data compiled by the American Library Association in 2012, professional librarians are predominantly female and white, but librarians of color are underrepresented in the profession in any setting. The program’s goal, Dewey said, “is to increase diversity among Penn State’s Libraries’ faculty, increase diversity in the profession, and enhance Penn State's reputation as a leader in promoting and cultivating diversity in all areas.” 

In addition to her master of library and information science (MLIS) degree, Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre performance from North Carolina Central University. She was an Academic and Cultural Enrichment Scholar from 2011 to 2013 and an ARL (Association of Research Libraries) Career Enhancement Program Fellow in 2013. She previously worked as a graduate researcher and content developer at UNCG Libraries Special Collections and University Archives and a graduate assistant in the Department of Instructional Technology and Teaching Resources Center in the UNCG School of Education. She also has held an internship with the Bennett College for Women, Thomas F. Holgate Library. Smith is a member of the American Library Association (ALA), the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, the North Carolina Library Association, and the Progressive Library Guild.

Berray holds a master’s degree in political science from American University, Cairo, Egypt, and a bachelor’s degree in biological science from the University of Sierra Leone, as well as the MLIS. He previously worked as a UNCG graduate assistant and coordinator, International Federation of Library Association International Comparative Librarianship Communitas, and a reference and instruction librarian as well as assistant director and then head of the Law Library at the American University in Cairo. He also was a Fulbright Scholar and an International Librarians Enhancing Access and Development (ILEAD) Fellow. Berray is a member of the U.S. Department of State Alumni and the International Association of Law Libraries and a former member of the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies Joint Steering Committee (American University, Cairo, Egypt).

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Last Updated August 19, 2013