Executive MLIS Student Anita Brooks Kirkland Wins Prestigious Award

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Anita Brooks Kirkland, a San José State University School of Information student in the Executive MLIS program, won the Ontario Library Association’s prestigious Larry Moore Distinguished Service Award at the group’s annual Super Conference during January. The honor is bestowed on OLA members who make outstanding contributions to libraries in the Canadian province of Ontario through their work within the association.

Kirkland is a frequent presenter at OLA conferences and has served on the Ontario School Library Association (OSLA) Council since 2002. She’s worked on several major OSLA initiatives. She was a founding member and writer of the human rights curriculum project known as Be the Change. She also served as the OSLA representative on the board of directors of Knowledge Ontario, which connects Ontarians with licensed databases and other digital content.

Kirkland plans to graduate in summer 2010. She currently works as a Library Consultant for the Waterloo Region District School Board, supporting library programs in 116 elementary and secondary schools.

As a self-described “techno-geek,” many of her presentations at OLA conferences focus on the integration of information and communication technologies in school library programs. “I seem to have a talent for hearing all of the big speakers talk at conferences about what wonderful things technology can do for us, and then translating that into practical strategies,” she said.

Kirkland holds undergraduate degrees in education and music education, and she earned a master’s degree in music performance from Michigan State. But she’s had a lifelong interest in libraries, starting with watching her father help establish her hometown library. She worked at her colleges’ music libraries during both her undergrad and graduate school education, and eventually became an elementary school librarian after working for several years as a music teacher.

She enrolled in the Executive MLIS program in part because Canadian schools don’t offer a similar master’s degree program in library and information science, and she wanted to strengthen her management skills.

Working full time while juggling Executive MLIS coursework and playing clarinet for music ensembles doesn’t leave Kirkland with much spare time, but she says her work on the degree has been particularly rewarding because of the knowledge she’s gained from classmates in her tightly knit cohort group.

“It’s such a diverse group from all different sectors of the library world, including a genealogist and two directors of public libraries,” she said. “They’re so interesting.”