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Knowledge River is an educational experience within the School of information that specializes in educating information professionals who have experience with and are committed to the information needs of Latino and Native American populations. Knowledge River also fosters understanding of library and information issues from the perspectives of Latino and Native Americans and advocates for culturally sensitive library and information services to these communities. Since its inception, Knowledge River has become the foremost graduate program for training librarians and information specialists with a concentration in Latino and Native American cultural issues. To date, over 170+ scholars have graduated from this program. This was and still is a nationally unprecedented milestone that can be attributed to the outstanding support with which scholars are provided.
Knowledge River has served as a catalyst for increasing awareness of diversity in the school, which now requires all scholars to enroll in courses designed to integrate cultural and ethnic perspectives throughout LIS curriculum and instruction. For more information about applying to Knowledge River, see the Admission page.
Knowledge River is funded largely by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.
Knowledge River Vision: to become a national exemplar in LIS education by reflecting throughout the program's teaching, research, and outreach the diversity of communities that libraries, information environments, and cultural heritage institutions serve in Arizona and in the nation.
Knowledge River Goals :
• Continue Diversity as a Major Goal for SI, with Knowledge River as the flagship of this effort.
• Recruit an Annual Cohort of Knowledge River Scholars.
• Achieve Sustainability.
• Expand Diversity Curriculum Development.
• Increase Emphasis on Diverse Faculty and Diversity Research, including connections with relevant campus departments.
• Extend Focus on Library and Community Outreach, through service assistantships and other means.
• Increase Cultural Fluency among all SI Constituencies.
• Build upon the cohorts of previous graduates as support for Knowledge River students and to further the goals of Knowledge River.
Reflecting the population in Arizona, Knowledge River focuses on Latino and Native American communities, but the vision of Knowledge River can encompass a rich diversity of communities. Knowledge River is built on the innovative foundation and success of the first Knowledge River program.
Knowledge River Partners: Knowledge River receives support from numerous partners including The University of Arizona Libraries, Arizona Health Sciences Library, the Pima County Public Library, and the Arizona State Library, Archives and Records.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded a three-year grant in substantial support of the second phase of Knowledge River. IMLS has also generously supported its predecessor, the Knowledge River Institute (see below).
Knowledge River seeks to involve all SI students, faculty, and other constituencies in learning about and fostering library, information, and cultural heritage services to Latino and Native American cultural communities.
Activities in any given semester can include Knowledge River pizza lunches (with a short program related to services to these cultural communities); Brown Bag research presentations on relevant topics; parties and social get-togethers; field trips, and other professional development activities.
SI offers a variety of coursework relevant to Knowledge River goals. The introductory course for the Knowledge River perspective, IRLS 550: Information Environments from Library and Hispanic and Native American Perspectives, is offered every fall. This course is required for all KR scholars and satisfies the SI distribution requirement for a cultural perspectives course; all interested students are welcome.
Other coursework is available at SI relevant to Knowledge River goals, offered by full-time faculty and nationally known part-time faculty. Many of these courses also satisfy the cultural perspectives requirement. Courses can also be taken in other departments in the university, such as the Mexican American Studies department and the American Indian Studies department. Students interested in augmenting their SI curriculum with these offerings should work with their advisors to be sure they fulfill SI requirements.
Knowledge River Institute
Knowledge River Institute began in 2001, funded substantially by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Knowledge River charted new territory in programs for addressing diversity in Library and Information Science (LIS) education. Initially a collaboration between the School of Information Resources and Library Science (SIRLS), and University Library at the University of Arizona, and later joined by the Arizona Health Sciences Library, the Knowledge River Institute was crafted and directed from its inception until fall 2007 by Patricia Tarin, KR Director at SIRLS.
It combined a financial aid program for Hispanic and Native Americans and members of other diverse communities throughout our region with elements previously not united in programs for minority groups. These elements included a residential cohort approach, emphasizing customized advising support; a suite of courses focusing on library and information issues from Hispanic and Native American perspectives; recruitment of major national figures as part-time faculty and advisors; and an emphasis on providing Knowledge River Scholars with practical library experience, professional development and outreach opportunities.
The Knowledge River Institute has had a strong impact on SIRLS, Arizona and the nation. It has become a nationally acclaimed and highly visible exemplar of diversity LIS education. When all KRI students graduate, the KRI program will have educated over 145 Hispanic and Native American librarians. These librarians have found jobs in diverse library and information venues, locally, regionally and nationally, and many are considered emergent leaders in the library profession.
A 2004 study undertaken by Patricia Tarin and Bruce Fulton for the Arizona State Library, Archive, and Public Records, indicates some dimensions of its impact. In 2007, Patricia Tarin was awarded the ALA Elizabeth Futas, Catalyst for Change award, for her long-standing commitment and activities, including the Knowledge River Institute.
With the context of the strong foundation provided by the Knowledge River Institute in its first five years, SIRLS and Knowledge River have, in the fall of 2007, undertaken an extensive planning process to set directions for another five-year period, beginning in the academic year 2008-2009. The planning process has included focus groups conducted by university planning experts with SIRLS constituencies: KR students, KR alums, SIRLS faculty, and the professional library community interested in Knowledge River.
The results of the focus groups were the basis for an all-day meeting with the newly expanded KR Steering and Advisory committee, and notes from the meeting widely circulated for comment to SIRLS constituencies. From this planning process and building on the achievements of the Knowledge River Institute so far, the vision and the reality of Knowledge River has emerged.
Precursors of Knowledge River
In the 1970’s, Dr. Arnulfo Trejo, a professor at what was then called the Graduate Library School at the University of Arizona, had the vision to see the importance of educating Latino and Native Americans to provide library services.
In 1973, he started the Indian Graduate Library Institute within the library school, supported by funding from the US Department of Education. Although the Indian Graduate Library Institute was short-lived, it made an important contribution to the education of Indian librarians.
In 1975, the Department of Education provided funds for another outreach educational effort, the Graduate Library Institute for Spanish-Speaking Americans (GLISSA). During GLISSA’s four-year existence, Dr. Trejo actively recruited Latino students to the library school; many prominent Latino/Latina librarians are alums of the GLISSA program. Both the Knowledge River Institute and Knowledge River are proud to be continuing the educational vision of Dr. Arnulfo Trejo.
To learn more about the type of work Knowledge River Scholars do, please click here.
For more information about how Knowledge River's goals are put into practice in the classroom and the field, please see the following infographic created by KR's Hanni Nabahe for Cohort 13.