UMKC Librarian Honored by the White House

By , June 21, 2013 9:54 am

GloriaTibbs-official-photoCongratulations to Gloria Tibbs for being named a White House “Champion of Change.”  She is one of 12 museum and library professionals from across the country who participated in panel discussions at the White House June 11.

The panel discussions focused on the topic of “Creating Lifelong Learners.”

According to the White House announcement, “The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature groups of Americans who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.”

Tibbs is a Teaching and Learning Services Librarian at the Miller Nichols Library, where she has worked since 2001. She also serves as the Library’s Diversity Liaison, a role that enables her to diligently promote the principles of diversity, inclusiveness, and respect throughout the Libraries, the campus, the greater Kansas City community, and the profession.

Library officials cited her work on two important initiatives that led to her nomination: the university’s annual Social Justice Lecture, sponsored by the Division of Diversity, Access and Equity; and the library’s participation in the annual African-American Read-In, a national Black History Month event sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English.

On both projects, Tibbs led successful efforts to involve the broader Kansas City community in university programming.

For the Social Justice Lecture, she worked to expand the single-event lecture into a multi-segment, multi-media series with extensive community participation. That started in 2009, with a visit by scholar and author Michael Eric Dyson. Tibbs organized three library-based events prior to his speech: a showing and discussion of the documentary “Trouble the Water”, a discussion of Dyson’s book “Come Hell or High Water”, and a personal discussion of an evacuee’s experience led by a UMKC librarian who had lived in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina and evacuated to Alabama.

Tibbs spearheaded efforts to bring the African-American Read-In to UMKC, beginning in 2010.  She broadened the concept to include a variety of expressions beyond readings, to include musical performances and dramatic interpretations. “We stressed the total African-American cultural experience,” she said, which also included food – she made homemade peach cobbler and served it at the Read-In. “Sharing food is a vital part of the culture.”


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