Spectrum Scholar Spotlight: Brandi Hart

Brandi Hart

Eight iSchool master's students were named 2021-2022 Spectrum Scholars by the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services. This "Spectrum Scholar Spotlight" series highlights the School's scholars. MS/LIS student Brandi Hart earned her BA degree in history and classical studies from Denison University.

Why did you decide to pursue an LIS degree?

In college, I completed two summer research projects and a year-long senior research project. Doing independent research made me deeply appreciate academic librarians, specifically their work in supporting student research. During the second summer, the professor who served as my research advisor invited me to dinner with his family. At the dinner, his sister-in-law, a public librarian, shared stories about the Korean culture club for young adults that she ran at the library. Ever since, I have thought that being a librarian would combine my many areas of interest into one career, which would be so rewarding!

Why did you choose the iSchool at Illinois?

I considered many programs, but the iSchool's MS/LIS very quickly outshone all the others. I was impressed by the faculty and the breadth of course offerings, including the opportunity for completing a practicum.

What particular LIS topics interest you the most?

I am most interested in LIS topics regarding young adult services, academic research librarianship, and how social justice guides our work. I am interested in how to tackle systemic oppression and racism in our field and in our greater communities to implement positive change and to create a more equitable and inclusive future. As an Asian American woman, I am interested in representation in LIS—including the portrayal of Asian Americans in media and in library collections—and how we can use critical information literacy informed by social justice to combat the normalization of negative stereotypes and racist imagery. 

What do you do outside of class?

I enjoy reading nonfiction, playing video games with friends, learning all sorts of new subjects (lately I've been watching an online course about linguistics), cooking Korean food for my friends and family, playing the alto recorder, and spoiling my pets.

What does being a Spectrum Scholar mean to you?

I am so honored to be a part of the Spectrum Scholar community and to be surrounded by a group of amazing LIS professionals. I am inspired by the work that Spectrum Scholars have done in making the field of librarianship more equitable, inclusive, and accessible. I plan to learn from my fellow scholars' examples and do what I can to continue Spectrum's mission to dismantle systemic oppression, institutional bias, and racism to help make libraries a safe and inclusive space.

What career plans or goals do you have?

My dream is to work as a research librarian, helping young adults in a college setting. In particular, I would love to specialize in assisting international students by developing outreach programming and providing creative services for them.

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