25 Years of USAIN: Scholarships support members

USAIN began sponsoring scholarships for organizational members in 1995. Since that time twenty people were selected for the New to the Profession or First USAIN Conference Scholarship, five scholarships were awarded to library school students interested in agricultural librarianship and one scholarship was awarded for a Tribal College member who was also a member of USAIN.

After receiving a scholarship, recipients have gone on to serve on committees and some have been elected to the Executive Council. Many of the new to the profession scholarship winners were encouraged to apply for the scholarship by mentors or fellow agriculture librarians. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of USAIN I asked past scholarship recipients to reflect on their scholarship experience. Thanks to those who responded to the short survey. Of those who responded to the survey their current positions include:

  • Collection manager for Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Coordinator for Collections
  • Agriculture, Natural Resources & Design Librarian / Instruction Coordinator
  • Science librarian
  • Reference Services Librarian specializing in Landscape Architecture, Regional Planning, Agriculture, and Sustainability Science
  • Information Technology Coordinator
  • Documents Librarian
  • Natural Resources Librarian
  • Life Sciences Data Services Librarian

What got people interested in the USAIN scholarship? Usually it was the power of connections—either they knew people who were already connected in USAIN and those members or colleagues encouraged them to join, or people were new to librarianship or the profession and they were looking to make connections which would carry them forward into their new job and subject responsibilities. Did winning the scholarship and attending USAIN make a difference? Yes it did, so read on to hear from the scholarship recipients in their own words….

  • Leslie Delserone was selected as a USAIN student scholarship recipient and she is the only student recipient still active in USAIN. “I knew that I wanted to be an “ag librarian” while still in grad school. Looking around, and talking with colleagues at Cornell and UNL, lots of signs pointed to USAIN as an organization that would help me to learn and connect with people, and to which I might be able to contribute. Dr. Dana Boden (UNL) was the first librarian to suggest that I apply for a scholarship. The scholarship made it possible for me to attend the joint USAIN/IAALD Conference in 2005, and begin meeting with the colleagues that I value to this day. I’ve only missed one USAIN conference since then – the 2006 meeting at Cornell – because I was living in Ireland at the time. USAIN is an organization to “grow in” – there are plenty of opportunities to contribute, so I always felt that there was something – no matter how “small” – where my abilities could be useful."

  • Debbie Currie said, “Applying for the scholarship during the first year of my first professional job got the USAIN Conference on my radar early on, and with the help of my mentor at LSU, I was able to submit and present my first professional paper at the 1995 Conference. This was incredibly important to getting my career off to a solid start because I was in a tenure-track position. Getting that first paper under my belt gave me to confidence to move on a try other things, including running for office in both USAIN and AgNIC. Further on down the line, I also became active in IAALD, serving as the IAALD Editor for ten years. I trace all of those accomplishments and successes back to conversations I had with Toni Greider early on (as well as many, many subsequent ones, of course), and her encouragement to apply for a USAIN Conference Scholarship certainly helped get the ball rolling on what will soon be a 20-year career as an agriculture librarian. Thank you, Toni, and THANK YOU, USAIN!” Debbie went on to say, “USAIN is fabulous! AgNIC and IAALD have also found their way into my heart as well, but USAIN will always be my first love :) “

  • Noël Kopriva was encouraged to apply for the scholarship by another librarian at her university. Noël said, “I was a new librarian and feeling very much a novice, as well. The scholarship made it possible for me to attend and meet so many wonderful professionals who have mentored me as an agriculture librarian and information professional more generally. I depend on USAIN for information about what’s important in the field, for friendships and support, and for the opportunity to play a biannual game of cornhole.”

  • Innocent Awasom remarked, “I had just moved to the States and was liaison to the college of agriculture and connecting with kindred spirits in a National Agricultural Information Network was the most logical thing to do to enhance my professional competency through networking, sharing best practices/comparing notes and socializing. The scholarship was an added bonus as it came about because my conference paper was selected for presentation at the conference.” The scholarship made a difference to Innocent. He “…had great exposure to colleagues in other institutions, connected via the list serve and eventually landed a new job thanks to gleaning the information at the conference. No man is an island and we can only know so much! Being affiliated to such a vast network such as USAIN is an important resource for all your professional needs – just an email or a phone call away and the friendships and camaraderie formed over the years are really priceless! I have gotten the opportunity to visit many places that would have otherwise been impossible without my USAIN membership.”

  • Madeleine Charney said, “I had been serving as Book and Internet Review Editor for the Journal of Agricultural and Food Information for a few years. Because JAFI has such close ties to USAIN, I was always curious how the organization functioned ‘on the ground’ and who the actual people were in this community. Attending USAIN for the first time in 2010 connected me to others who do what I do, bringing me out of isolation. I felt very warmly welcomed and long story short, I now serve on the Executive Council. This role has definitely helped me further develop my leadership skills. I have also really enjoyed serving as Chairperson of the Invited Speakers Committee for USAIN 2014. It’s fun to help shape the upcoming event -- brainstorming ideas with colleagues from around the U.S. and communicating with various agriculture professionals who support the work of USAIN.”

  • Sheila Merrigan commented, “Since I worked in Cooperative Extension and not a library, had I not received the scholarship it would have been difficult to convince my administration that USAIN fit with my responsibilities and I doubt I could have gotten the funding to attend the meeting. Receiving the scholarship allowed me to attend the meeting and convinced me and my administration that this was a valuable connection – both because of the information gained and the people associated with USAIN. Being part of USAIN gives me a broader professional viewpoint than had I stayed within extension organizations.” Sheila went on to say, “When I first joined the organization I didn’t really think I fit in very well because I wasn’t a ‘librarian’ (i.e., working in an academic library), but I was welcomed, encouraged and mentored by so many people that I soon felt very comfortable. The fact that I worked in a non-traditional librarian role seemed irrelevant to my colleagues and I was encouraged to run for office and served on the Executive Council as a Director and then President. While it may not be surprising that this organization is filled with people who are extremely knowledgeable and dedicated to the profession, what is unanticipated is the great willingness to provide assistance and share information. The people are what make USAIN a great organization.”

  • Suzanne L. Reinman said, “My colleague at the time, Heather Moberly, encouraged me to submit a paper. The opportunity to participate in USAIN has allowed me to expand my outreach as a government documents librarian. Agriculture and environmental issues have always been an interest in my career. The ability to apply these and my understanding of government information have combined to form additional opportunities for me to contribute to the profession and to interact with specialists in this field.”

  • Sarah Williams remembers, “When I applied for the scholarship, I was a fairly new librarian and the only agricultural librarian at my institution, so I was interested in USAIN as a way to meet other agricultural librarians and keep up on important issues in the profession. My first USAIN conference (in 2003) was a great experience; I learned so much and was welcomed by many long-time members. Winning the scholarship was an honor for me, and it led to my first opportunity to become actively involved in USAIN as a member of the Awards and Honors Committee. The opportunities to get involved in USAIN and connect with colleagues has helped sustain my interest in agricultural librarianship, and ten years after winning the scholarship, I am still serving agricultural researchers, particularly focusing on their research data.”

  • Lastly, Allison Level remembers, “I was a science librarian for several years then started a new job at Colorado State as the agriculture librarian so I applied for the scholarship since 2001 would have been my first USAIN conference. At the time the conference was held on the NCSU campus it was still winter in CO but springtime in Carolina. I saw spring flowers, some familiar librarian faces, yet I also met many new people. The combination was a springboard for my interest in USAIN and I asked to join a committee shortly after I got back home. Over the years I have served on the Executive Council and was elected as USAIN President. The goals, activities, and people involved in USAIN have made a significant difference to agriculture and research libraries. Thanks USAIN for the scholarship support you have provided over the years.”

--survey conducted by Allison Level

next chapter: A plan for preservation

USAIN Celebrates 25 Years

A special logo and member pin was issued for the 25th anniversary

USAIN was founded in 1988 as a network of agricultural information professionals. Today, the organization still fosters collaboration, advocacy and professional development in support of agricultural information.

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