BCALA announces our 2020 DEMCO Award winner, Dr. Shaundra Walker, PhD, for the 2020 DEMCO/ALA Black Caucus Award for Excellence in Librarianship. Walker has made remarkable contributions to promoting the African Americans and other people of color in the library profession in the areas of advocacy (public relations), recruitment, research and scholarship, contributions to librarians’ professional development, and innovative programming.
Dr. Shaundra Walker has always thought of herself as a problem solver, eventually using analysis to address complex issues. This led her to pursue a doctorate in Higher Education Administration where she investigated the role of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) Library Alliance Leadership Program in developing library leaders. She has over 20 years of experience working in libraries and higher education. Her work and research have been deeply influenced by her experience attending and working in minority serving institutions. Advocacy (Public Relations) and Recruitment
Dr. Walker is a long-time member of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) where she has managed major public relations and technology initiatives. As head of the Marketing and Public Relations Committee she has greatly contributed to the Caucus’ marketing plan via print and online social media outlets. She also spearheaded the establishment of BCALA’s Facebook page. This allows the Caucus to effectively communicate its mission, vision, values, news, and events to current and potential new members. In her role as Organizational Director she has been instrumental in the development of the website and the move to a new cutting-edge integrated membership platform that is efficient and attractive to members.
Research and Scholarship
Dr. Walker’s research and scholarship provides important insight on library services to African Americans as well as the experiences of librarians of color and other marginalized groups in the profession. In the 2015 , Critical Race Theory and the Recruitment, Retention and Promotion of a Librarian of Color: A Counterstory, she applies critical race theory to explore how a white-centered history and practices of librarianship can systematically invalidate African American librarians and other librarians of color. The 2017 essay, A Revisionist History of Andrew Carnegie’s Library Grants to Black Colleges, explores the motivations of corporate philanthropies and the experiences of the African Americans who negotiated with them to obtain library buildings for their campuses. She followed this with the 2018 essay, With Us, Not for Us: A History of Public Library Services to African Americans in Macon, Georgia, 1881-1970. In her latest 2019 essay, Developing Cultural Competency and Sensitivity, Dr. Walker discusses why it is crucial for informational professionals to be able to effectively work in cross-cultural situations.
Contributions to Librarians’ Professional Development
Dr. Walker has been an instructor for the Library Juice Academy since 2016 where she teaches courses such as “Cultural Competence for Librarians.” She is a frequent presenter at conferences such as: The American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the Association of Library and Information Science (ALISE), the National Diversity in Libraries Conference (NDLC), and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM). She continues to serve as a mentor for countless new and advancing librarians through her publications and presentations.
Planning, Implementation of Programs
In 2018 Dr. Walker and her staff at the Georgia College Ina Dillard Russell Library received a $12,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities Common Heritage Program. The grant is being used to fund a project entitled, “Documenting Milledgeville's [GA] African American History.” The purpose of the grant is to increase the local African American history in the Russell Library’s special collections and archive. Community members will have their cultural materials scanned for their own personal use and can elect to have their materials included in local, regional, and national digital repositories [i.e., the Russell Library, the Digital Library of Georgia, and the Digital Public Library of America]. This project is a powerful example of how librarians can facilitate communities of color in documenting their local and regional histories and situating them in a national context.
Dr. Walker’s substantial contributions to promoting the status of African American Librarians make her a well-deserving recipient of the 2020 DEMCO/ Black Caucus American Library Association Award for Excellence in Librarianship.