WAML Moves Forward With Formal Scholarship Program

by Philip B. White
University of Colorado Boulder

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PhilWhiteAs WAML Vice President/President-Elect, I am very proud that the Executive Board has decided to formalize a scholarship program aimed at bringing new librarians into our unique profession. The best way to learn about Map and GIS librarianship is to get to know the community and learn from its collective knowledge. I attended my first WAML meeting at UCLA in 2014. That year, I was the first ever recipient of a student scholarship that funded my travel to attend the meeting. Coming to WAML in 2014 turned out to be a pivotal moment in my career, as I learned much about the profession and made connections that eventually helped me land in my current position at the University of Colorado Boulder. Unfortunately, the scholarship I received was a one-time offering, and there have been no other recipients since 2014. Because I have benefited so much from joining the WAML ranks, I knew when I was elected Vice President that scholarships were an issue I wanted to pursue. I am very pleased to report that the Executive Board has decided to develop a strategy to fund not one, but two scholarships on a annual basis!

During the 2016 WAML Meeting at Stanford University, Chrissy Klenke (University of Nevada, Reno), Susan Powell (University of California, Berkeley), and I had a conversation about how we could recruit new and diverse perspectives into Map and GIS Librarianship. Particularly, we discussed ways in which WAML could promote inclusion of different types of people in our field. After a series of correspondence and meetings, we agreed that our eagerness to develop both a student scholarship and a diversity initiative dovetailed nicely into a recruiting and mentorship program. We proposed to the Executive Board a plan to fund two annual scholarships to the annual WAML meeting –one for a current MLIS student or recent graduate, and a second for a person of diverse cultural background. The Executive Board approved funding for two scholarships for the 2017 meeting and appointed the three of us to an ad hoc Scholarship Committee chaired by Susan Powell. The board tasked the committee with managing the scholarship and devising a long-term funding model.

As Kim mentioned in her President’s Message, the Board voted to increase WAML membership fees by $10 to fund the scholarships. The modest increase, along with a little extra cash on hand in the WAML bank account, will fund both scholarships for 2017. Moving forward, the committee will be working toward a sustainable funding model for both scholarships beyond 2017. We have discussed seeking scholarship sponsors as well as setting up an endowment. Meanwhile, we will be devising criteria for awarding scholarships in the coming months. With the 2017 meeting scheduled for November, we plan to open the application period in August. Along with the scholarships, there will be a session on mentorship in the profession at the 2017 meeting where we hope to explore ideas for mentoring librarians new to Map or GIS librarianship. Be on the lookout for more news about the scholarship and encourage any potential applicants to apply!

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