Goals & Objectives Supporting Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program
To deepen the impact of Reading Nation Waterfall (RNW), a three-year IMLS funded National Leadership Grant focused on increasing access to literacy resources and libraries for Native American children and families, iWarrior will investigate how fully funding MLIS degrees and creating a supportive learning community within each of RNW’s tribal partners affects the engagement and educational outcomes of ten selected librarians (two per tribe) and the rural, high-poverty, low–literacy proficiency tribal communities they serve. The five existing tribal RNW partners and their librarians that will be involved in this project are the Crow Tribe of Montana, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana, and the Santo Domingo Pueblo (New Mexico). Our research into the effects of these targeted investments will both study and support the relationship between LIS professional credentials and community impact, thereby primarily addressing IMLS’s agency Goal 1: Champion lifelong learning and Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Goal 1: Recruit, train, develop, and retain a diverse workforce of library and archives professionals and Objective 1.2 (Collaborate with formal and/or informal learning organizations to incorporate promising practices from allied domains into library and archives services) and Objective 1.3 (Develop training for library and archives workforces to support families, groups, and individuals of diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and needs. The project’s three research questions are: (RQ1) What impact would an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited program have on the tribal librarian? (RQ2) Does having an MLIS-credentialed librarian lead to increased usage of library services within an RNW community? And (RQ3) Are the new tribal librarians educating other librarians and the field to improve library services for Native American and indigenous people? We request $714,119.00 in research funding.
A Reading Disparity that Must Not Continue
Since 1994, American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) fourth grade students’ National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scores have decreased from 211 to 204 in 2019, which is below the basic reading proficiency threshold of 208 (The Nation’s Report Card, 2021). This is particularly troubling for two primary reasons: 1) The national reading average has continued to increase at statistically significant levels and 2) AI/AN student scores were above the national average in 2000 and then dropped at a statistically significant level in 2002 and has remained below the basic reading proficiency level ever since. Figure 1 shows the growing disparity in 4th grade reading scores for AI/AN students compared to the national average since 2000.
NAEP’s 2019 National Indian Education Study of 7,000 AI/AN fourth graders found more detailed disparities in the reading achievement gap (NIES Report, 2019) based on the percentage of AI/AN students in a public school – AI/AN students in low density schools (less than 25% of students) score higher (209 vs 204 in 2019) than the AI/AN national average while AI/AN students in high density schools (more than 25% of students) score lower (196 vs 204 in 2019). AI/AN students, however, that attend Bureau of Indian Education schools score lower than high density schools (186 vs. 204 in 2019). These statistics suggest the need to understand what is causing this gap and preliminary research also suggests that libraries and librarians may have an instrumental role in helping address and close this gap.
Exploring potential factors influencing these outcomes revealed three primary differences between higher performing (in the 75th percentile) and lower performing (in the 25th percentile) AI/AN students. Higher performing AI/AN students had: 1) A computer with Internet access at home (at 4th and 8th grades for reading and math), 2) More than 25 books at home (at 4th grade for reading) and more than 100 books at home (at grade 8 and at grades 4 and 8 in math), and 3) A school library, media center, or resource center that contained materials about AI/AN people (at 4th and 8th grades in reading) (NIES Report 2015; NIES Report, 2019). Sikorra, Evanish, and Kelley (2018) conducted an international study of 31 countries and found that growing up with home libraries with 80 or more books had statistically significant benefits in adulthood in reading, math, and STEM related competencies: “… adolescent exposure to books is an integral part of social practices that foster long term cognitive competencies and…(that) home library size has a loglinear effect on cognitive, numerical, and problem-solving skills that endure throughout life” (, p.15).
Our team-members’ research (Chow, LaFrombosie, and Roy, 2019) studied early children’s literacy for tribal children at a deeper level working with the Blackfoot Nation. They found that a combination of barriers collectively led to many Blackfoot children growing up in book deserts. Their study’s sample included 84 interviews, 105 randomly selected surveys, 53 parent surveys, and four focus groups. There were seven main findings: 1) The Blackfoot community in general did not value or prioritize reading or libraries, 2) school libraries were not well funded and students did not have easy access to them, 3) most did not visit the tribal/public library often, 4) participants were not read to frequently as children, 5) only 25% had more than 80 books in their home libraries, 6) libraries were not considered a popular destination on the reservation, and 7) significant disconnects existed between library services and programming and needs of the community.
Further project research (Chow, Sink, Casey, and Sanchez, 2021) replicated the Blackfoot study with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (ECBI) in July 2021. In conducting five interviews which included the Chief, a focus group, and 73 surveys, a clear disconnect was found between ECBI’s recognition of how important reading was for the future success of children and the actual extent in which caregivers and the tribe in general placed on literacy.
Figure 2 – Gaps Between Importance of Reading and Actual Prioritization
All seven barriers identified from the Blackfoot study were replicated with the EBCI study. Furthermore, as with the Blackfoot tribal community, EBCI parents expected a well-supported and high-quality school library and saw school libraries as one of the primary places for children to have access to books.
Chow, et al. (2019), in response to their preliminary findings and previous research studies, piloted a book distribution program to test possible solutions to address barriers. They used little free libraries to deliver books that were convenient, free to take home, and based on a child’s self-selection. The little free libraries were curated by the school librarian and placed strategically where children ages 3-10 and their caregivers were going to be—at their Head Start Center, elementary school, and tribal community center. One thousand books were quickly distributed, and all little free libraries were emptied, presumably moved into children’s’ homes. The school librarian was the hub of all activity and instrumental in ensuring it was successful as she had the expertise and experience to help order and purchase books that were relevant to tribal children and families and she was a member of the Blackfoot tribe.
In keeping with these findings, more than 34 statewide studies found positive correlations between strong library programs and student achievement (Curry-Lance & Kachel, 2018) and, often, the highest benefits were found for the most vulnerable and at-risk students, including students of color and of low income. Chow & Tien (2019) also found that professional librarians with an ALA-accredited MLIS degree were significantly related to increased library outputs and higher quality-of-life factors in the communities they served. Librarians support early literacy efforts and improve equitable access to education for all students. Furthermore, libraries promote information literacy as a skill to be used to serve community needs, and in tribal communities (ALA, 2021; Gomez, 2007) and there is an urgent need to train archivists that preserve and provide equitable access to these communities’ unique history and culture (Christen, 2015). Thus, the preparation of the tribal and public librarians who serve tribal communities should help bolster the efforts of organizations within their communities by ensuring that access to information, programs, and services are current, modern, and equal to services offered beyond the reservation. This question needs to be studied at a deeper level.
Results from the 2019 study raised interesting questions about which variables—cultural interest, access, librarian curation, etc.—influenced these outcomes. These questions served as the genesis for the formation of the IMLS funded Reading Nation Waterfall project. In conducting community wide assessments in each of the five tribal communities, the RNW project has identified several potential variables that could be serving as significant barriers to access and use of libraries. First, there appears to be a significant gap between participants recognizing that literacy and libraries are important to the success of their children and the tribe and actual prioritization of books and use of libraries in their daily lives. This gap appears to be a fundamental barrier to access to literacy resources and libraries for children and caregivers in these communities. The second is the professional preparation and support of tribal librarians. It is believed that a contributing factor to the lack of use of libraries is that only one of the 15 librarians participating in the five tribal communities has an MLIS degree.
To better target future investments to advance literacy among AI/AN communities, this project will isolate these variables to understand their impact as we detail below. The iWarrior project places a strategic focus on building community capacity to champion the relevance and importance of libraries by increasing the number of ALA accredited MLIS librarians from within each of its five communities. More specifically, the iWarrior project will seek to positively impact three distinct groups: 1) the ten individual librarians, 2) the communities they serve, and 3) the LIS field in general. This project is focused on targeted and strategic impact on diversifying the field by concentrating efforts and capacity building within the five tribal communities the RNW project, which is a funded IMLS leadership grant, is already working in. This project will build upon the existing infrastructure and align its goals with the RNW grant project by building a diverse LIS workforce from within existing cultural and community boundaries led by librarians who have grown up and lived in the respective communities they plan to serve.
Project Work Plan
As described above, despite a successful first year addressing early children’s literacy by situating librarians and libraries as leaders and catalysts within communities, RNW has found that variables involving community engagement and participating librarians’ professional preparation reveal a need for greater precision in understanding which literacy investments best help fulfill the RNW mission. Accordingly, this RNW-IW applied research project proposes to create and measure the impact of a tribal librarian scholarship program to answer four research questions:
1) What impact would an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited program have on the tribal librarian?
2) Does having an MLIS-credentialed librarian lead to increased usage of library services within an RNW community?
3) Are the new tribal librarians educating other librarians and the field to improve library services for Native American and indigenous people?
To address these research questions, the iWarrior research team will use a mixed-method design consisting of qualitative interviews, focus groups, and surveys as well as quantitative data collection and analysis – particularly surrounding performance and usage statistics, librarians’ evolving changes in attitude and confidence over time, and community reading scores. The study will use a research crosswalk to ensure alignment between questions and data collection (Miles & Huberman, 1994) and a project logic model that helps identify and track all project and research inputs, outputs, and outcomes (Knowlton & Phillips, 2012). This qualitative-quantitative methodology builds strong internal and external validation because all data collection instruments and questions are aligned specifically to a research question, which means data collected are specifically aligned to answering these questions. RNW investigators have already received IRB approval to work with RNW librarians, thanks to our current IMLS grant. Project Director Chow holds a master’s degree in educational psychology and is an expert in evaluation and mixed method research.
Variables and Data of Interest
Table 1 shows the alignment between our research questions, data collected, and data analysis. A mixed method design will be used to rigorously examine and study the interactions, impact, and alignment between project inputs, outputs, and outcomes. A research crosswalk (view sample crosswalk here) will be finalized to ensure alignment and internal validity of all instruments and data collection. Crosswalks connect research questions to sub questions to the actual questions asked in interviews, focus groups, and surveys. A project evaluation logic model will also be finalized and used for dual purposes as both formative evaluation and project management (view sample logic model here).
Table 1 – Alignment between research question, data collected, data analysis, and expected outcomes
|Research Question||Data Collection||Data Analysis||Expected Outcomes|
|RQ1) What impact would an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited program have on the tribal librarian (LB Objectives 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, and 3.4)?||Preliminary and annual librarian interviews; quarterly work journals||Thematic analysis of changes over time.||Increased confidence, KSAs, technology competencies, and social network with other tribal and other librarians in general.|
|RQ2) Does having an MLIS-credentialed librarian lead to increased usage of library services within an RNW community (LB Objectives 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, and 3.4)?||Annual usage statistics, including circulation, visitation, programming, attendance, etc.||Descriptive statistics (e.g., frequencies, percentages, etc.) and analysis of variance (ANOVA) (comparison of averages over time for statistically significant differences)||Increased circulation, visitation, attendance at programs; enhanced perception and understanding of how libraries can support and help tribal communities.|
|RQ3) Are the new tribal librarians educating other librarians and the field to improve library services for Native American and indigenous people (LB Objectives 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, and 3.4)?||Bi-annual focus groups with the iWarrior MLIS-candidates, creation of the VR iWarrior Library, survey data from attendees at conferences and/or visitors to our library, and findings of our external evaluator.||Thematic analysis and descriptive statistics.||Increased sense of confidence, reduced sense of isolation; increased professional network with other tribal and librarians in general.|
Note: LB Goal 1 and Objectives 1.2 and 1.3 are the primary focus of the project but objectives 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, and 3.4 will also be impacted and measured accordingly
Data Collection and Analysis
RQ1) What impact would an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited program have on the tribal librarian
Each iWarrior will serve as their own individual case study. We will gather and tell the story for each of them as individuals and as a collective group of scholars. Per Table 1, all data collected will be aligned to the appropriate research questions they are intended to inform and help answer. For RQ1, we will work with each librarian to qualitatively follow their experience from start to finish – we will do this using a pre/post design starting with interviewing them at the start of the project, meeting with them as a group every three months, and conducting an annual interview with them at the end of each year. Furthermore, they will be asked to submit a quarterly journal of their experiences as an iWarrior to help ensure their experiences are collected consistently over time. All interviews and focus groups will be transcribed and analyzed by identifying content themes, coding them, and then comparing across iWarrior experiences. Video recordings of interviews will also be added to the library so that iWarriors can tell their own stories in rich multimedia detail to help informing the field.
RQ2) Does having an MLIS-credentialed librarian lead to increased usage of library services within an RNW community?
General quantitative usage statistics will be gathered and analyzed to measure potential changes over time. Librarians will be asked to speak to this data in their work journals, focus groups, and annual interviews. They will also describe how their graduate work is impacting their practice and their thoughts around the impact this may be having on the resources, services, and programming they are providing to their community. This will be both an individual and collective question for all iWarriors and their respective libraries. Usage statistics will be analyzed using both descriptive (e.g., percentages, frequency counts, means, etc.) and parametric statistics (e.g., analysis of variance, correlations, standard deviations, etc.). Qualitative analysis will involve thematic and content analysis of transcripts. The use of qualitative and quantitative data will allow for data triangulation (the use of multiple sources of data to measure the same phenomenon) which will increase the overall validity of our findings.
RQ3) Are the new tribal librarians educating other librarians and the field to improve library services for Native American and indigenous people?
This will be answered through the perceptions from both the iWarriors and other librarians/visitors who either visit the VR library and/or attend local, state, and national conference presentations. The same survey instrument will be made available in attempt to measure impact and changes over time as the content of our presentations and VR library will grow and evolve throughout the project. Both iWarriors and attendees/visitors will complete the survey instrument. RQ3 will also be part of the interview, focus group, and annual interview process and presentation transcripts conducted by the iWarriors will also be included in the data set. Survey data will be both quantitively analyzed using descriptive and parametric statistics and qualitative data will be analyzed for themes and content.
Our study will require IRB approval and RNW, whose grant home is being transferred to SJSU due to Dr. Chow changing universities, is currently working on its IRB submission; this project will serve as an amendment to the existing RNW IRB application.
Tasks and Activities
Project Work Plan. Year 1 (9/1/22-8/31/23): RNW-IW Team. The research project will be added to the RNW workflow overseen and managed by the existing management team, including the project’s national advisory committee, steering committee, project director, project manager, student assistant, and external evaluator. An additional project manager and web/social media/virtual reality student assistant will be hired to oversee this aspect of the RNW project. Additional project activities will include:
Task 1) Establish Administrative Team. The project will bring in an additional dedicated resource within the RNW administrative and leadership infrastructure. This will include a second faculty member with expertise in Native American and indigenous culture and librarianship to serve as the iWarrior mentor, a project manager to oversee and facilitate efficiency operations, a web/VR/social media student to build and maintain a strong internal and external social network, and an external evaluator who will advise and support the project. The iWarrior project will be situated within the existing RNW project infrastructure which includes a national advisory board, project director, external evaluator, and steering committee composed of project leaders from each of the five tribes.
Task 2) Invite and Finalize iWarrior Scholar Candidates. Recruitment and identification of the final list of candidates will be conducted by the leadership team. These candidates will be selected based on tribal representation, current library position, statement of interest, and final interview by the RNW leadership team. Upon selection the iWarrior scholar will receive assistance and support in applying to an ALA accredited MLIS program. Final participation may also ultimately be determined based on the ability of the candidate to get accepted into an MLIS accredited program.
Task 3) Finalize Research Crosswalk and Project Logic Model. A preliminary research crosswalk (all data collection instruments will be specifically aligned to the project’s research questions and stated goals, objectives, and outcomes) and project logic model (an evaluation and project management tool to track project progress in real-time) has been developed as part of this proposal and will be finalized by the project director, evaluator, and leadership team. The project team shares IMLS’ commitment to outcomes-based evaluation.
Task 4) Project Evaluation Design and Implementation. The external evaluator will assist the project director and leadership team with finalizing the sub questions needed to answer each research question and the ensuing evaluation methodology, project activities, and requisite data to ensure the appropriate metrics and data are identified and collected. Project evaluation will be ongoing and continuous.
Task 5) Establish and Maintain Website and Social Media. A specific set of pages will be built off the Reading Nation Waterfall website. The iWarrior program will become part of the social media workflow of the existing RNW social platforms. An additional student assistant will be hired and assigned to oversee this. Both the web pages and social media will help support building the scholar learning community as well as help educate people about the project and disseminate findings.
Task 6) Develop and Maintain iWarrior Virtual Reality (VR) Library. Using browser-based VR technology, the iWarrior virtual reality library developed for this proposal will further be developed to share the evolving stories of the iWarriors and to help disseminate main findings. The VR environment allows us to develop and deliver content in interactive, multi-modal ways. Formal development will begin upon the formal start of the project and will be added to the workflow and updated along with our website and social media. It will also serve as a free and open-access library and virtual museum for LIS students and the general library-professional community to learn more about the project and serving the Native American and indigenous community.
Task 7) Select and Enroll Scholarship Recipients in the MLIS Program. Two librarians will be recruited from each tribal partner community and the iWarrior leadership team will help facilitate that each candidate applies and is successfully admitted into an ALA accredited MLIS program as the final formal step of becoming an iWarrior and a part of the project. Students will be enrolled into the SJSU iSchool or another ALA accredited MLIS program for Spring 2023 as a cohort of ten students.
Task 8) Professional Development and Mentoring. Co-PIs Drs. Mary Ann Harlan, Ulia Gosart and Dr. Kim Sellers (Lumbee) will serve as Co-Mentors for the iWarrior students. The professional development will consist of a combination of hard and soft skills-based training as well as introductions to other MLIS-credentialed librarians working in the field. We will meet every three months and guest speakers will share their experiences as professional librarians. They will also serve as formal mentors to the iWarriors and will make themselves available to support the students through both their respective MLIS programs as well as through the participation through the iWarrior program.
Task 9) Conduct Qualitative and Quantitative Data Collection. Preliminary interviews will be conducted with the iWarriors as part of the start of the project and then at three month and annual increments; this includes a quarterly journal and video diary of their experiences as an iWarrior scholar. The iWarrior focus group will also be held twice a year or every six months to discuss the progress and document their experiences. Surveys will also be administered in our virtual reality space and after all conference presentations, to help measure the impact the project and iWarriors are having on educating others about Native American culture and issues related to indigenous communities and libraries. Library usage statistics and performance data (e.g., literacy rates and circulation statistics, etc.) will also be collected and analyzed annually.
Task 10) iWarriors Start MLIS Programs. The scholars will begin their MLIS programs. Due to CSU and SJSU regulations, all scholars must still apply and be accepted into the SJSU iSchool, which requires a minimum 3.0 GPA from their undergraduate degree. If they are not eligible, then we will help facilitate their admissions into other ALA accredited MLIS programs All scholars will be supported and mentored as an individual and cohort.
Task 11) Quarterly iWarrior Meetings. As a learning community, all scholars will meet to share their experiences as MLIS students within their unique contexts every three months so that diverse perspectives and stories can be shared, discussed, and processed as one collaborative and organic cohort. As mentioned, we will use these meetings to build community and also provide professional development from seasoned LIS professionals. Every other meeting, every six months, we will also conduct a formal focus group with the entire cohort.
Task 12) Establish and Maintain an iWarrior Scholar Learning Community. There will be multiple activities implemented to build community. This includes the quarterly meetings, attending the ALA conference, and coming together for a two-dayr in-person iWarrior summit to be held at end of each summer. The faculty mentors will help lead the development of the learning community which also will be supported using social media and one-on-one mentoring.
Task 13) Present and Publish Research. A core activity will be to expose scholars to research and professional presentation opportunities so that they can both strengthen their research and academic presentation skills and continuously share and disseminate knowledge of the project and about librarianship and service to Native American and indigenous populations. Our project will be presented at both state and national conferences.
Task 14) iWarrior Scholars Attend ALA Conference. Attending the conference as a cohort will further build relationships and introduce the scholars to the field and the field to the scholars. All iWarriors will attend the SJSU iSchool reception as well as a formal meet-up for lunch or dinner.
Task 15) Annual iWarrior Summit. All iWarrior scholars, faculty, and staff will attend a two-day summit at one of the tribal locations to build a stronger community, to discuss the project, identify opportunities for improvement, and to learn from one another.
Task 16) Perform Annual Evaluation and Report. The external evaluator will be an embedded partner with the project team collecting data and will provide an annual evaluation report identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement at the end of the year, which will serve as the foundation for the submission of our annual report. The annual evaluation and report will also include preliminary research findings as well as ways in which the research design and/or project can be refined.
Years 2 (9/1/23-8/31/23) and 3 (9/1/24-8/31/25) will emulate Year 1 activities minus start up activities and all scholars will likely graduate midway through Year 2 and/or by the end of Year 3. This includes Year 2 and Year 3 milestones such as quarterly meetings and work journal submissions, bi-annual focus groups, attending the ALA conference, presenting at conferences, attending the annual summit, and annual evaluation report. Data analysis will include individual iWarrior research case studies and profiles based on qualitative analysis of their interviews, work journals, and focus group participation, and feedback from the mentors. Quantitative analysis will involve usage statistics of the libraries iWarriors work in as well as survey data from attendees at presentations and visitors at our VR iWarrior library. The research results will be published and presented.
The project will be run by a project director, an additional faculty member with expertise in indigenous librarianship who will serve as a Co-PI and iWarrior mentor, a project manager, a web and social media coordinator, and an external evaluator. The project will be part of the existing RNW organizational structure which will include RNW’s national advisory committee, two project managers, and steering committee comprised of partner coordinators from each of the five tribes (Sarah, we are going to develop an org chart to clarify this).
We have recruited several iWarrior candidates as part of the proposal process and have highlighted four of them in our VR space here and below:
Lynette Dial (Lumbee) (RNW Project Manager, Branch Manager and Children’s Librarian at Hoke County Public Library) – Lynette calls the opportunity to earn an MLIS degree a “dream come true.” When discussing with her family, her daughter told her that it was her time to do something for herself because Lynette constantly was giving herself and time to her family instead. She has worked as a librarian for 30 years and hopes earning the degree will help her continue to flourish and empower her to help even more people.
Adrienne Violette (Tribal librarian for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana and Chief Dull Knife College) – Adrienne was born and raised in the area and her family were ranchers and coal miners. She earned her AA degree from Chief Dull Knife College and worked at the library as a work study student where she fell in love with librarianship. She feels earning an MLIS degree will help legitimize her in the community and with other college faculty and staff. She also feels that earning the MLIS will “give me the language to ask the things the Community needs like I feel like there’s a language barrier between myself and what I’m doing and how to communicate that to the library field at large.” She is also even more excited about having peers to work with and feels that rural librarians often have networking gaps.
Elizabeth Bishop (Crow Agency Elementary School Teacher) – Elizabeth has worked as an educator for 22 years and the past 12 years at Crow Agency Schools. She is being groomed to become the next elementary school librarian. While she already holds Montana’s library endorsement, she feels earning an MLIS degree will “…give her the tools to address the ever-changing assaults on libraries…(and) would allow me to become a stronger advocate for students in my school.” Elizabeth also feels that “Libraries can provide resources that enable students to see themselves, their potential, and ways they can grow and contribute to their own communities.”
Jesseca Chavis (Lumbee) (Red Springs Library Branch Manager) – Jesseca is the branch manager of the Red Spring library branch, one of seven branches of the Robeson County Public Library system. She is member of the Lumbee tribe and states that earning her MLIS degree would mean she could, “…advocate for increased library access not only for the Native American students in my community, but also for the Native American adults and parents of these students.” She also notes that, “One of humankinds greatest gifts has to be the power of imagination. If I were to allow myself to imagine that I was going back to school, continuing my education, especially under the umbrella of guidance and tutelage from other iWarrior librarians who have already walked a similar path; I would consider myself blessed.”
Incorporating Target Group and Advisors
One of the prospective iWarrior scholars is the current project manager for RNW project and a member of the Lumbee tribe. Furthermore, several other prospective scholars are existing tribal librarians who serve on the RNW steering committee, which help guide all aspects of that project.
The project will use the stated schedule of completion and tasks identified as its project management timeline. We will also develop and make use of a project logic model that will help ensure all project inputs, outputs, and outcomes are accounted for in real time. The logic model will be used as a project timeline in conjunction with the project’s schedule of completion. This means that milestones will consist of ensuring that appropriate project inputs and stated activities are accomplished on schedule. Project evaluation will begin at the start of the project and will be continuous after that. Interim and final financial and performance reports will be submitted according to the required reporting schedule
All aspects of the project will be shared via social media and the website, the iWarrior Virtual Reality library, as well through traditional academic presentations and publications. The VR library will be used to organize and disseminate the work and reflections of each iWarrior scholar as well as to provide dynamic access to any presentations and publications and major findings from the project. Results will also be published in venues such as the international Native American and Indigenous Studies Journal (NAIS), American Indian Quarterly (AIQ), Public Library Quarterly, Library Quarterly, JELIS, etc. and presented at state local conference in Montana, North Carolina, and New Mexico and national conferences such as ATALM, ALA, PLA, and AASL.
Both the RNW project and iWarrior scholars will help ensure that Native American perspectives are at the core of the entire project. Furthermore, their voices, experiences, and lessons they can share with the field is the focal point of the entire project. The project will strengthen the field’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion by being building the capacity of each community through the growth of each tribal librarian, by telling their stories, and by them helping educate the field by them more formally joining the profession with an MLIS and them helping develop the iWarrior VR library.
As indicated in Table 1, the study is guided by its three research questions, and the hypothesis is that by participating in the iWarrior program and its project activities, eight project outputs may be realized in varying degrees depending on the iWarrior and their current library and community context. The outputs will include 1) Increased library usage statistics (LB 2.1), 2) Increased community relevance (LB 2.1), 3) Increased alignment to professional standards (LB 1.2, 2.1, 3.1, and 3.4), 4) Increased iWarrior scholar confidence (LB 1.2 and 2.2), 5) Increased library advocacy (LB 2.1 and 2.2), 6) Increased knowledge, skills, and abilities for both scholars and the field (LB 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, and 3.4), 7) Increased contextual understanding of how to serve people from tribal communities (LB 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, and 3.4), and 8) An iWarrior virtual library (LB 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, and 3.4) that will be used as both a research and dissemination activity. These intended outputs will be included as questions in all data collection instruments.
The sustainability of the project and its benefits will reside in the iWarrior scholars themselves—via their increased connection to the field and their communities’ recognition of the value of professional librarians’ role—and in the improved role libraries can play in serving their communities. Ultimately, the success of this research will yield broader understandings about the optimal investments communities can make in libraries and librarians to support literacy and their overall quality of life.
The results of the study will address three primary needs: 1) Enhance library services in tribal communities, 2) Educate and empower librarians in rural, tribal communities, and 3) Add the voices of rural, tribal librarians to the network and learning community of professional librarians, which benefits both them and the field. Our target group will be school, public, and tribal librarians who wish to further their education in the field and who will serve as embedded strategic partners with RNW to promote literacy and libraries in tribal communities.
There are six main beneficiaries of this project: The participating iWarrior scholars, the LIS field they will join and inform, the tribal community stakeholders of all ages and across all generations, the educators who frequently seek support for Native American curricula in off-reservation schools, the students and teachers at both secondary and post-secondary levels, and the future native and non-native generations who will have increased access to tribal history, literature, culture, values, and language.
One of the core activities of the project will be to build the iWarrior virtual library using the perspectives and views of the students themselves. This will include identifying best practices, sharing context specific information about the needs of Native American communities, and some of the ways to increase relevancy of library services and programming for their respective communities. Furthermore, the iWarrior project will have a vibrant social media and web platform to disseminate information and academic presentations are also built into the project’s workflow.
It is anticipated that all iWarrior scholars will complete their MLIS degree within three years and that IMLS’ return on investment will be adding the voices and library expertise directly into the five tribal communities that the RNW project, already a funded IMLS project, which should therefore be valued-added to both projects. Furthermore, the iWarriors will represent a learning community that will support one another and support the rest of the field through their stories, contributions to the project, and archived experiences and development of resources in the iWarrior VR library.