River Rouge Schools awarded federal grant to restore urban school libraries

Wayne State University School of Information Sciences Associate Professor Kafi Kumasi has been awarded an IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program award of $247,152 for “Project RUSL: Restoring Urban School Libraries." The project will provide education and professional development for six diverse classroom teachers who work in Harper Woods and River Rouge School District. The teachers will become certified school librarians and build capacity to restore the school libraries in their respective buildings. “I’m excited about the opportunity to bridge cultural disconnects that many urban students experience with traditional school and public library spaces, where they don’t see themselves reflected in the collections, programming or staffing,” said Kumasi. “There is great potential to create a flexible and innovative model that can be replicated by other schools facing similar realities.” Project RUSL will also build a video library of evidence-based practices of school librarianship and culturally responsive pedagogy based on Kumasi’s INFLOmation model, a hip-hop inquiry-based approach to school library instruction that helps capture and facilitate youth’s culturally specific information-creating behaviors in ways that mimic and flow out of hip-hop culture. In a joint statement, Derrick R. Coleman, superintendent of the River Rouge School District, and Steven McGhee, superintendent of Harper Woods School District, said: “This grant will simultaneously provide both the school district and our local public library system with a synergy to re-engage a generation of people that may not understand the library is more than a space that holds a collection of books. We look forward to this partnership with Wayne State and are excited to prepare our teachers to continue a tradition of service so deeply woven into the culture of learning in this country.” The Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program (LB21) supports developing a diverse workforce of librarians to better meet the changing learning and information needs of the American public by enhancing the training and professional development of library and archives professionals; developing faculty and library leaders; and recruiting educating, and retaining the next generation of library and archives professionals.

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