Susan Steinfirst Artist-in-Residency Program
The Susan Steinfirst Lecture series was started in 1999 in memory of Susan Steinfirst, a children’s literature professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science (SILS). The lecture honors the memory of Professor Steinfirst by introducing notable children’s authors and illustrators to the SILS community and the Triad. More information on the history of the Susan Steinfirst lecture series can be found here.
In 2015, Professors Sandra Hughes-Hassell and Brian Sturm decided to expand the goals and impact of the lecture series, adding an artist-in-residency component to the original lecture to give Triangle area youth an opportunity for in-depth study with internationally acclaimed authors and illustrators. The author chosen to give the Susan Steinfirst lecture is invited to participate in a week-long workshop with a group of local school-age children. The overarching goal of the artist-in-residency program is to provide a unique, exciting, intellectual opportunity for students who often do not have access to such experiences in school.
Diversity, both of the author and the student body, is a top priority. By engaging diverse creators and students, we are confronting and counteracting the “single story,” what novelist Chimamanda Adichie identifies as the problem of hearing only one perspective about a people. Connecting students with authors who look like them, speak like them, and share similar cultural experiences, enables diverse youth to express their authentic cultural voices, present their unique perspectives on the world, increase their self-efficacy, and add complexity and depth to the current “single story” most youth encounter in schools.
SILS graduate students who are interested in working in public and school libraries with youth also benefit from the expanded program. Students who work with Professors Hughes-Hassell and Sturm to develop and implement the program gain experience with understanding and supporting the needs of diverse youth, public/school library partnerships, publicity, outreach, and communication, and strategic planning and event management.
The artist-in-residence experience is partly funded by a gift from Professor Steinfirst’s niece, Julia Steinfirst Howard, and her husband, John. The lecture is also receiving support through the Drs. Barbara and Robert S. Martin Research Assistant program, which supports students assisting faculty members who are conducting research in the areas of children’s, young adult, or school librarianship.
On subsequent pages we introduce the participating Susan Steinfirst Lecture and Artist-in-Residency authors, profile the students and schools, and provide details about the programs’ design and development.