Professor Emerita, Dr. Alma Dawson, Featured as a Pioneering African-American Librarian

dr dawsonDr. Alma Dawson, Professor Emerita of the School of Library & Information Science, was one of five pioneering African-American librarians honored in American Libraries, the magazine of the American Library Association. Dr. Dawson’s career at LSU spanned 32 years including 14 years at LSU Library and 18 years in SLIS. She held the Russell B. Long Fellowship in Library and Information Science from 2003 to her retirement in 2015.

She earned her BS from Grambling State University in secondary education in 1963 and worked as a high school teacher in Louisiana in the Jim Crow era of segregated schools early in her career. She recognized the need to improve the school library’s book collection and assisted the librarian in obtaining materials to better serve the needs of students. She went on to earn her Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Michigan in 1974, and was Education and Library Science Librarian at LSU for 14 years. She later obtained her PhD in Library and Information Science from Texas Woman’s University in 1996. She then joined the faculty of the School of Library & Information Science.

Among her other achievements as a faculty member at LSU, Dr. Dawson earned tenure as library faculty and SLIS faculty. The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded her a $750,000 grant for “Project Recovery.” The project provided  two cohorts of students with tuition, fees and a stipend in exchange for working 10 hours per week in academic, public, and school libraries that experienced staff shortages following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In the article, Dr. Dawson impressed upon readers the importance of having goals and objectives that inspire them to move forward even when circumstances don’t work to their advantage. She also emphasized librarians’ duty to provide people with access to information during times of crisis, saying, “Librarians are the ones opening their doors when others in the community are retreating.”

About SLIS

The School of Library & Information Science (SLIS) provides a 100% online education in library and information science. SLIS offers an undergraduate minor and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in library science, an ALA-accredited Master of Library and Information Science, and Graduate Certificates in Archival Studies, Records & Information Management, and School Librarianship. SLIS is part of the College of Human Sciences & Education.  

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The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The college is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, the School of Library & Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs, 18 graduate programs, and 7 online graduate degree and/or certificate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 1,120 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is committed to improving quality of life across the lifespan.

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