Gerald Holmes, a Reference Librarian and Diversity Coordinator at Jackson Library, will serve on a panel at the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference 2012 in Anaheim, California. The title of the panel is “Winning on Two Fronts: How Library Residencies are Placing Libraries at the Leading Edge of Innovation and Diversity Initiatives.” Holmes will be discussing his role as the first (and current) Diversity Coordinator for Jackson Library, in which he works to bring in recent MLIS graduates for two-year fellowships at the university library.
“I think for many years we were looking at what we can do to help as far as recruitment and retention in our profession for underrepresented populations,” Holmes says.
After the formation of a library diversity committee and after attending various national conferences, Holmes served as Chair for a Libraries Planning Committee that created a report for a Post-MLS Diversity Residency position.
“I think it’s an opportunity for them (residents) to gain ‘real world’ professional experience in different areas of the academic library. It’s a two-year residency; the first year they actually rotate between three different departments for four months each, and then the last year it’s designed so that they have one full year in a department,” Holmes says.
Holmes sees many advantages to the library and the university as well: “I think it’s an opportunity for us to bring in someone who has some ideas that are different than what we already have in place and they can help us to try out some new services and resources and promote the library in a fresh new way,” he says.
The second diversity resident, LaTesha Velez, just completed her second year in the program, and the search committee is interviewing applicants for the next residency position.
Gerald Holmes has been a reference librarian at Jackson Library since 1998. He also works as residency coordinator, as well as helping out with other areas including serving on the Library’s Administrative Advisory Committee, development, and presently assisting with projects related to alumni affairs, and archives. Holmes is a Greensboro native, graduating from Dudley High School and going on to college at UNC Charlotte and receiving his MLS from UNC Chapel Hill.
He serves on the LIS Advisory Board as well as the African-American Studies Program Advisory Board, and he helped create the ACRL Residency Interest Group, which he encourages MLIS students to join. Holmes is also a co-PI on the ACE Scholars Program/IMLS Grant. Holmes believes that the ACE Scholars program is a great step for the LIS Department, University Libraries and the University as a whole to work toward diversity initiatives.
“I think, especially for our field, a successful library is one that meets the needs and can provide a welcoming environment to all the patrons who walk through the door,” Holmes says.