UVI-FastTrack Partnership supported by IMLS


UVI LogoWith support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Pitt’s School of Information Sciences and the University of the Virgin Islands-St. Thomas have entered into a unique partnership. In June of 2005, t he IMLS granted $965,910 to the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) to fund 25 students as they earn their MLIS degrees via the FastTrack distance education program. FastTrack offers the ALA-accredited master’s degree program through Web-based asynchronous delivery. Students from more than 26 states have participated in the on-line educational opportunity since its inception five years ago. The UVI students will begin their FastTrack course of studies in May of 2006. Applications for admission to the FastTrack program – for both UVI students and others -- are due by February 10, 2006 .

This grant is part of the IMLS’s multi-million dollar initiative, 2005 Librarians for the 21 st Century, to help offset a shortage of professional librarians working in underserved communities. According to American Libraries magazine, almost 58% of professional librarians will reach the age of 65 between 2005 and 2019. The Institute’s approach to creating the next generation of librarians is to support a wide variety of initiatives including tuition assistance, curriculum development, service expectations, job placement, recruitment of non-traditional library students, and support of doctoral candidates in the library sciences field. This grant to the University of the Virgin Islands – St. Thomas was one of 38 grants announced in June of 2005, totaling more than $21 million in support.

“We’re so pleased to be a part of this ambitious program to educate the next generation of librarians,” states FastTrack Director Sue Alman. “Working with UVI is a natural extension of our already-successful distance learning program.” Pitt’s MLIS degree program is ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Students are admitted to the FastTrack program as a cohort that will move through the program together, allowing for peer interactions and support similar to that found in the on-campus program. Students will participate through asynchronous course delivery, real-time conferencing with other students and the faculty, and on-campus learning experiences throughout the time of study. In addition, due to the IMLS support, the Virgin Island students will have the opportunity to gain field experience, targeting mentoring, and exposure to national conferences. The UVI students who accept the IMLS support will make a commitment to work for a minimum of two years in the Virgin Islands.

For more information about the FastTrack program and the partnership with the UVI, please visit http://fasttrack.sis.pitt.edu/. Visit http://www.imls.gov/whatsnew/current/062805a.htm to learn more about the IMLS.