Joseph Gaskin Receives 2020 ALA Spectrum Scholarship

This story was written by Kaelen Birkholz, School of Information graduate assistant.

Joseph GaskinA student in the Master of Science in Information program, Joseph Gaskin, was awarded the 2020 American Library Association (ALA) Spectrum Scholarship. The ALA provides scholarships to exceptional students pursuing a graduate degree and leadership positions within the field of Information.

This year, the ALA Spectrum Scholarship Program received four times as many applicants as scholarships available, with many candidates being highly qualified. The ALA website explains that scholars were chosen based upon their “commitment to community building, leadership potential and planned contributions to making social justice part of everybody’s everyday work in [library and information science].”

As a current Library Associate for the Jacksonville Public Library, that is just what Gaskin plans to do. Gaskin is an advocate for the diversity and growth that the city of Jacksonville needs. His goal is to see the Jacksonville Public Library expand its services to include things such as housing assistance, mental health resources, alternative education paths, and small-business assistance. He believes in the library’s potential to exist as not just a repository for books, but also as a space in which we can apply the knowledge acquired within. His ideal library would include a car shop, open kitchen, gardens and so much more.Joseph Garden

Gaskin’s passion for libraries has been strong from the start. His first job in high school was at his neighborhood library where he started as a shelver. Over the next 20 years, he held a variety of positions but always found himself drawn back to the library field. Now, after eight years with the Jacksonville Public Library, Gaskin has grown from a clerk to an associate and plans to take the leap to librarian soon. He would also like to become a Youth Services Programming Specialist immediately following his graduation in Spring 2021. Overall, Gaskin has gained incredible experience and growth from his current library and thoroughly enjoys inhabiting that space with a staff that shares his excitement and love for the branch.

In addition to his studies and work, Gaskin is working on a virtual storytime on YouTube called, “Hello Mr. Joe!” where he explores some of the spaces kids love but are unable to visit during COVID. He also suggests some exciting books to bring the adventure home. Check it out here.