UMD MLIS Alumni Receive Multiple Maryland School Librarian of the Year Awards

INFO Staff - January 18, 2024

Donna Mignardi and Sheri Anita Massey are awarded in 2020 and 2023, respectively

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The University College of Information Studies (INFO) Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program is known for producing exceptional school librarians who are equipped to innovate and advocate on behalf of communities and individuals in need of information.

In addition to a unique focus on developing changemaking skills, students enrolled in the INFO MLIS program with a school librarianship specialization benefit from a robust hands-on learning program. Students are partnered with school libraries in the state of Maryland, providing them with real-world training.

Students do two internships—one in an elementary school and another in a middle or high school—giving students an opportunity to work in different settings. “There’s a world of difference between working with little ones and working with seniors in high school,” says Bridgette Comanda, INFO School Library Internship Lead.

In addition to earning an ALA-accredited MLIS degree, students in the program graduate with their Maryland State Certification as a school librarian (library media specialist) in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, and/or other states with comparable requirements.​

A testament to the program are alumni Donna Mignardi and Sherri Massey, who received the Maryland School Librarian of the Year Award for their work in the field in 2020 and 2023, respectively.

Donna Mignardi

Donna Mignardi

Donna Mignardi, 2020 Recipient

After receiving her degree in elementary education and psychology, Mignardi considered pursuing a graduate degree in school counseling until one of her professors suggested librarianship. Reading about the role of a school librarian, she felt a strong affinity for the career.

“I am very proud of my library and information science degree from UMD—some of the greats in the field of school libraries were my instructors and advisors,” Mignardi says.

Since earning her MLS degree (later renamed MLIS) at INFO in 1999, Mignardi has worked as a school librarian for more than 20 years at Calvert High School. At Calvert, she participates in multiple educational committees and regularly contributes to the Programming Librarian blog.

Mignardi champions professional growth, holds memberships in several library associations, and is involved with the American Association of School Librarians Task Force, where she helps update the Position Statement on the Instructional Role of the School Librarian.

Mignardi’s significant contributions to library media led to her recognition as the 2020 Maryland School Librarian of the Year. Read more here about alumna Donna Mignardi.

Sheri Anita Massey

Sheri Anita Massey

Sheri Anita Massey, 2023 Recipient

Massey earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Pittsburgh in 1998 before working her first teaching job at Birney Elementary School in Washington, D.C. Massey left public school education in 2000 and worked at the Washington Theological Union’s library as a circulation assistant, where she was encouraged to go back to school.

INFO’s MLIS program drew Massey because of its collaboration and connections with the community, she says. There, she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees and worked on the International Children’s Digital Library project—a digital library created by UMD faculty that provides free access to children’s books in different languages.

Soon after graduating in 2009, Massey served at the INFO as an assistant program director before deciding to follow her calling of serving in a K-12 setting. Today, Massey is the school librarian at Cabin John Middle School in Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools—as well as an adjunct lecturer at the INFO College.

“We are information specialists, teachers, leaders, program administrators,” Massey says. “Our goal is to integrate information literacy skills throughout K-12 content areas. It’s a constant effort to build relationships between staff and students.”

Due to her exceptional contributions to school librarianship, Massey was named 2023 Maryland School Librarian of the Year. Read more here about alumna Sheri Anita Massey.

This article was produced from original writings by Laurie Robinson and INFO staff in the following articles for the UMD INFO College: Mignardi article, Comanda article, Massey article.