Spectrum Scholar Spotlight: Megha Bamola

Megha Bamola

Thirteen iSchool master's students were named 2022-2023 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 Megha Bamola earned her bachelor's degree in urban planning from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Why did you decide to pursue an LIS degree?

Originally, I was working at the city or village level doing urban planning and community development. The work was pretty restrictive in my experience, and I detested saying "No" to people and focusing on the preservation of buildings and not people. I always had librarianship in the back of my mind but didn't feel compelled to pursue it, until I realized it was the perfect career path to bring together my core values and passion for accessibility, justice, and community. I also wanted to meld my professional interests in historic preservation with my love for public service and accessible education, so I naturally thought an LIS degree would be best for my career trajectory!

Why did you choose the iSchool at Illinois?

I chose the iSchool because I had a positive experience at UIUC as an undergrad and was thoroughly impressed with the iSchool's course offerings and acclaimed faculty. I had talked to my colleagues and coworkers about my different options, and they all recommended the iSchool.

What particular LIS topics interest you the most?

As I keep learning, I appreciate LIS more and more as a field because it's vast and expansive, and the breadth of topics is endless. I'm interested mostly in public librarianship but also in community history. I am incredibly passionate about information and accessibility in education, fostering city-resident relations and the expansion of initiatives that improve people's lives by helping them access resources to become active and have a voice in their communities. I want to focus on experiential learning, transformative justice, and decolonization through a wider accessibility lens. I view the public library as a school that isn't tied down to a strict, mandated curriculum, and this thinking is what I bring to my jobs when programming, interacting with patrons, and completing my projects.

What do you do outside of class?

You can find me in the Children Services department at Oak Park Public Library, working as a children services specialist. I love building relationships with our patrons and seeing familiar faces as they and their needs grow! I also work as a preservation project associate for the Detroit City Council Historic Designation Advisory Board; I conduct outreach with the Metro Detroit community and help with the preservation of their communities and significant landmarks through research and oral histories. Preserving underground and underrepresented community history is extremely important to me, as this history isn't tangible, nor does it exist in our history books.

Outside of work, I love to take long walks, look at architecture, and hang out with my cat Saw (we change his name every day). I also love taking bucolic day trips to see different places in the Midwest and hopefully find more Betty Boop items for my growing collection.

What does being a Spectrum Scholar mean to you?

I feel extremely privileged and honored to be a Spectrum Scholar. Networks of support like this are necessary for people of color, and I am excited to grow with my cohort and alumni network and lend a helping hand to future librarians of color.

What career plans or goals do you have?

My short-term goal is to be a children's or young adult librarian. In an ideal world, I'd also be able to have my hand in archives and preservation at the same time! One day, I'd love to create an archive of the history of stuffed animals as well; we’ll see if I ever come across that dream project. In the long term, my desire is to help libraries become more equitable, accessible, and safe for EVERYONE and help provide avenues of growth for the community. I would love to see more people in my field move toward true equity.

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