iSchool to Host Maryland Dialogues Event - The Sojourner Truth Project: An Innovation Space

iSchool to Host Maryland Dialogues Event - The Sojourner Truth Project: An Innovation Space

The Sojourner Truth Project: An Innovation Space

Friday, March 25th, 2pm
Hornbake Library South, Room 2119
Light refreshments will be provided

The iSchool invites guests to join us on March 25th for a presentation by alumni Andrea Thomas and Eyoel Delessa. Andrea and Eyoel will discuss their efforts to revitalize the Sojourner Truth Room at the Oxon Hill Branch of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System and how their work is addressing the lack of minority representation in STEM fields as well as the preservation of an important African-American historical collection.

This event is part of the Maryland Dialogues on Diversity & Community, a series of events, lectures, symposia, discussions and listening sessions for faculty, staff, students and alumni to help advance discussions of identity, difference, and commonality. For more information and a list of upcoming events, visit umd.edu/MarylandDialogues.

Presentation Abstract:
The Sojourner Truth Room is a beautiful African-American special collection of books, journals, articles, microfiche and rare items located at the Oxon Hill Branch of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System. The task we were given was to create an even more specific focus for the collection and create a draw to the room that was unique compared to other African-American special collections in the area. What we settled on was a focus on the African American history of Prince George’s county. We saw a need to connect the history of the room with technology that would allow patrons to interact, learn, and build on the history housed in the space. That brought us to our proposal for a focus on the African American historical towns in Prince George’s county and the creation of an Innovation Space in the Sojourner Truth Room to innovate history.

The Sojourner Truth Room project addresses two main problems in its initiative; the first is addressing the lack of minority representation in STEM fields and majors in higher education. By adding technology and innovation that youth can interact with and learn from in the Truth room, the staff hope to increase - slowly and steadily - the number of students of color interested in and passionate about the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The second issue the Truth room project addresses is the preservation of the historical materials in the room. By building an audience that is connected to the materials and their value, the staff hope to create a community that will protect, utilize and gain from the research collection. We have submitted a grant with IMLS in order to get the funding to make the innovation space a possibility. 

About the Presenters:

Eyoel Delessa earned his B.A in Government and Politics with a Minor in Philosophy from UMD. He has his MLS from UMD with a specialization in Information and Diverse Populations. Eyoel has had the opportunity to work as a Public Administrative Assistant with the Montgomery County Public Library System, as an Instructor for UNIV103: Student Success Strategies at the University of Maryland, and is currently serving as a Special Project Intern with the Prince George's County Memorial Library System. He has a passion for public service and believes public libraries are vital to building inclusive communities in an increasingly diverse America. 

Andrea Thomas (MLS, 15) is an attorney turned librarian. Her passion is helping her community and she is delighted to be able to be of service to her community though the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System. Currently, she’s working as a Librarian I at the Hillcrest Heights branch of the PGCMLS. She was formerly a Special Projects intern for the Sojourner Truth Room. She also volunteers her time at the Scott Library located on the campus of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, DC where she teaches computer classes to World War II veterans.