The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has named Barbara Williams as a visiting program officer (VPO) for diversity and leadership programs from July 2018 through July 2020. Williams is the liaison librarian for the departments of AeroAstro and Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) — a position she has held for 10 years. Williams brings extensive commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion to this role and deep experience developing and maintaining mentorship programs in a variety of contexts.
In her role as visiting program officer, Williams will be responsible for assessing, enhancing, and managing the mentorship component of ARL’s diversity and leadership programs. She will explore best practices for mentoring individuals from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and will evaluate protocols for selection and assignment of mentors for ARL program participants. Additionally, she will help develop training tools and other resources to bolster the mentorship component of ARL’s diversity and leadership development efforts.
Williams’s work with ARL will cultivate a broader and more informed community of support for library, information, and archival science students from diverse backgrounds. To this role, she brings significant experience at MIT, where she participates in the Mentor Advocate Partnership (MAP) program, which is designed to help first-year students navigate college life. Earlier in her career, Williams developed a workshop for university faculty mentoring students of color, and has initiated similar training programs in the health sciences, K–12 education, STEM, and corporate sectors. She has also mentored numerous library and information science students at Simmons College and through the ARL Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce (IRDW).
“We are delighted that Barbara’s skills and experience have been recognized in this important way, and are proud to have her sharing her passion and expertise with the larger ARL community,” said Chris Bourg, director of the MIT Libraries and past chair of the ARL Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. “Her leadership in issues of diversity, inclusion, and social justice has been a strong and constant theme throughout her career.”
Gerald Beasley, chair of the ARL Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell University, said, “ARL will benefit tremendously from Barbara’s experience and expertise. The VPO program allows us to expand our capacity, and appointing Barbara as a VPO will strengthen the mentorship component of our diversity and leadership development programs.”
Williams’s appointment as ARL visiting program officer is supported, in part, by funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). A component of her responsibilities will be to liaise with advisory groups for the ARL/Society of American Archivists (SAA) Mosaic Program, the ARL Fellowship for Digital and Inclusive Excellence (both also funded by IMLS), and the ARL Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce.
Williams holds a bachelor of arts in psychology from Michigan State University and a master of library science from Wayne State University. She is also an alumna of the ARL Leadership & Career Development Program (LCDP), New Century class of 2001–2002. She has a significant record of service to library associations — such as the Special Libraries Association (SLA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and the Massachusetts Black Librarians Network — as well as the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Outside of the library profession Williams has extensive experience mentoring young adults who are transitioning out of the foster care system.
The ARL Visiting Program Officer program provides opportunities for outstanding staff members at ARL member libraries to contribute to special projects and programs, either in whole or in part, in order to advance the agenda of the Association. Visit the ARL website for more information about the Visiting Program Officer program.