ECU librarian Alan Bailey, a graduate of East Carolina University's master in library science program, is employed in the Teaching Resource Center at Joyner Library on the east campus. ECU has received grant funding that will help recruit and train students to serve as librarians in underserved areas of eastern N.C. (Photos by Jay Clark)


Grant to help ECU recruit, teach, place librarians in region

April 3, 2014

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

A grant of nearly $500,000 will help East Carolina University recruit and teach school librarians from economically disadvantaged and historically underrepresented backgrounds who want to live and work in eastern North Carolina.

The library science degree program in the College of Education at ECU has been awarded a 2014 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. ECU will provide $165,045 in non-federal matching funds, bringing the total to $657,369.

“This project will increase the number of trained, professional media specialists that reflect the diversity of their communities and increase the ability to connect with those diverse populations,” said Dr. John Harer, master of library science degree coordinator and associate professor of library science in the College of Education.

The funding will support recruitment efforts and full-tuition scholarships at ECU for 30 library science graduate students beginning studies this fall.

Meredith Hill, an ECU graduate in library science, assists students with computer activities in the library at Creekside Elementary.
The project will use a "grow your own" model, focusing on students who want to stay and work in eastern North Carolina and complete their master’s degrees online, officials said.

Recruitment will begin immediately.

In addition to tuition costs, the grant will cover university fees and offer a book stipend for the entire degree program until spring 2017. Membership in the North Carolina School Library Media Association and a travel stipend to attend an association conference will be included.

“The project will provide training for jobs as school media specialists, skills in searching for professional jobs and assisting students in securing employment in their home communities,” Harer said.

ECU’s location and mission to support eastern North Carolina aligns with the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ charge to prepare librarians to work in high-need districts, officials said.

“Rural public schools in the economically depressed communities of eastern North Carolina face daunting challenges in recruiting and retaining school librarians,” the grant announcement said.  

ECU’s master of library science degree program, established in 1939, is the largest producer of school library media coordinator graduates in the state. The online program supports non-traditional students seeking employment as librarians and information professionals in primary, middle and high schools, universities, community colleges and public libraries.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded 23 grants out of 82 proposals received from across the country. Only two North Carolina institutions, ECU and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, received grants.

For more information on ECU's program, email Harer at or call 252-328-4389.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. To learn more, visit