Franks named 2021 ALA Century Scholar

Mary Franks

MS/LIS student Mary Franks has been named the 2021 recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) Century Scholarship. The scholarship supports students with disabilities, providing funds for services or accommodations that will enable them to successfully complete their MS or PhD in an ALA-accredited library and information science program.

"I found out about this scholarship from exploring the ALA.org website. I thought to look there by searching online for how to find graduate scholarships. It may seem simple, but the result was amazing, to say the least," Franks said of her new $2,500 scholarship.

A writer who adores books, Franks decided to pursue a degree that would lead to a career where she could be surrounded by books.

"Since I have many chronic illnesses, a career where I can use my mind without overtaxing my body is perfect. I worked for four years at my undergraduate library as a work-study student," she said.

Franks earned her bachelor's degree in English with a minor in philosophy at Castleton University in Vermont. Beth Bidlack (MS/LIS '10), who at the time served as director of the university's Calvin Coolidge Library, encouraged her to apply to the iSchool at Illinois.

"The iSchool is a godsend, because I can obtain my degree without worrying too much about whether I can even afford it," said Franks.

The topics that interest her the most include reference and archives, especially reparative work. After she earns her master's degree, Franks would like to work in either a public or university library.

"I would like to get into the field as quickly as possible, applying my newly learned skills and knowledge as soon as I can. Then I can see how I might add to or change my skill set depending on my environment," she said.

Franks is currently working on a young adult novel about magic and mental health, which she hopes to have published by the time she graduates.

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