New Scholarship for MLIS Students Created in Honor of Dr. Robert Ellett


Thanks to the generous contributions of alumna Janice Wakimoto, the San José State University School of Information recently established a new scholarship for students enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program. Wakimoto’s passion for cataloging and her admiration for her cataloging professor, Dr. Robert O. Ellett, Jr., led to her decision to create the new scholarship. The scholarship, specifically for MLIS students who study cataloging, is in honor of Ellett, who passed away suddenly in early 2013.

Ellett taught beginning and advanced courses in cataloging at the SJSU information school since 2004. His death was a shock to students, faculty and staff at the school, and especially to Wakimoto. “He was a cherished friend and mentor,” she said.

Wakimoto first met Ellett during her last semester as a graduate student in the MLIS program. She had decided to take cataloging as her final elective before graduating in 2005. It was the most difficult class she took while earning her master’s degree, said Wakimoto, but it was the “best money I ever spent.”

“Dr. Ellett was passionate about cataloging. He conveyed his enthusiasm for this difficult topic in a fun, interesting way,” Wakimoto shared. “Whenever I stumbled Dr. Ellett was always there to get me back on my feet.”

“During my years working with the San Mateo County Library, he helped me with cataloging problems whenever I asked.” Wakimoto worked at the San Mateo County Library for more than six years as a cataloging librarian. Throughout those years, she and Ellett stayed in touch and even attended professional conferences together.

According to Wakimoto, she decided to establish the scholarship as a way to thank Ellett for all he did for her and for other students. “I also want to encourage current SLIS students to experience cataloging,” said Wakimoto. “My hope is that students who are deeply invested in librarianship, especially cataloging, will have an opportunity complete their studies and go on to become well-prepared, hardworking librarians.”

The new scholarship will be awarded for the first time in 2014, with two students each receiving $1,000 to help with their tuition expenses. Every spring the school awards several scholarships to students enrolled in the MLIS and Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA) programs.

Students interested in applying for the new scholarship, or any of the existing scholarships, should check out the Scholarship, Award, and Grant Information page on the school’s website. Applications for scholarships are accepted between March 1 and March 30.