Residency Program

The University of Tennessee Libraries launched the Minority Librarian Residency Program in 2002. The program was developed and supported by former library dean Barbara Dewey; Jill Keally, an associate dean and the program’s initial coordinator; the university’s vice chancellor; UT Libraries’ department heads; and the Belonging and Engagement Committee. Dean Dewey believed that the residency program would, “bring into the organization and the profession at large not only ethnic and cultural diversity but also the fresh enthusiasm and skills of recent library and information science graduates.” The program was seen as a “tool that offered residents early work experience that is transferable to future positions.”

A primary goal of the program was to provide residents with the opportunity to develop specialized expertise, build leadership experience, and foster collegial relationships within the university community. In return, residents were expected to provide meaningful contributions to the intercultural goals of the university, participate in library committees, and become involved with professional associations. Each cohort was also provided with mentors and encouraged to pursue professional development and outreach opportunities.

Read our minority residents legacy stories.

Past Residents

Kenya Flash previously served as an Adjunct Reference librarian at Wilkes College and was an evening Circulation Supervisor at Kings College, both in Wilkes-Barre, PA. She earned her MS in Library and Information Science from Drexel University in June 2014.

Read Kenya’s Legacy Report

Keila Zayas-Ruiz previously served as a Reference Assistant at the Orange County Library System in Orlando, Florida. She earned her MS in Library and Information Science from Florida State University in December 2013.

Ingrid Ruffin has a BA and MA in English, as well as the Master of Library and Information Studies, from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. While in the MLIS program she was an Academic and Cultural Enrichment Scholar. Her prior position at a small liberal arts college allowed her to sample many aspects of librarianship. She has a particular interest in providing library services to underserved groups, especially veterans (a group that commands her personal affection).

Both interns bring prior international and intercultural experience to their new positions. As an undergraduate, Cunningham spent a Semester at Sea, doing community service in ten countries across Asia, Africa, and South America. Ruffin served nine years in the United States Air Force.

Read Ingrid’s Legacy Report

Kynita Stringer-Stanback received her MS in Library Science from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in May 2009. She has a Bachelor’s degree in African and Afro-American Studies from UNC, Chapel Hill and has international travel experience.

Rabia Gibbs received her MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh in August 2009.  She also holds a BA in Philosophy from Evergreen State College and a M.Ed from Arcadia University in Elementary Education.

Read Rabia’s Legacy Report

Damon Campbell received his MLIS from University of Illinois’ LEEP program. He has worked in DePaul University’s Library since 2000 and as a student gained experience in Stacks Management and Circulation. Upon completing his undergraduate degree in 2004, he was promoted to Approvals Assistant in Technical Services, where he managed approval and firm order shipments and coordinated monographic bindery shipments. Damon is keenly interested in Technical Services and Collection development, though he is open to other areas of Librarianship.

Read Damon’s Legacy Report

Shantrie Collins is a 2007 graduate from the University of South Florida, School of Library and Information Science. As a recipient of the ALSTARS (Academic Librarians for Tomorrow’s Academic Researchers) Fellowship, she successfully completed a Master of Library and Information Science. Her diverse educational background consists of a Master in Business Administration and Bachelors in Graphic Design from Auburn-Montgomery. With over 8 years experience in public and academic libraries, Shantrie culminated her academic experience with library rotations in Library Development, Public/Reference Services, Technical Services, Electronic Resources, and Collection Development.

She is a 2006 recipient of the ALA Spectrum Scholarship. An ALA member since January 2007 with divisional memberships including ACRL, ALCTS, and NMRT, Ms. Collins is committed to serving University of Tennessee Libraries and the library community-at-large. Shantrie’s research interests include diversity, metadata, electronic resources management and emerging technologies such as Library 2.0. Her first rotation within the Minority Residency program focuses on Metadata under the Technical Services & Digital Access unit. She is also interested in working with the Electronic Resources unit and the Digital Library Center.

Favorite Quote

“Academic librarianship is for those who are constantly intellectually curious and who can apply that curiosity to efforts that help increase the knowledge base of the institution for research, teaching, and learning.” – Camila A. Alire


Shantel Agnew is a 2005 graduate of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. She earned her B.A. degree in Mass Media Arts from Clark Atlanta University. Prior to graduate school, she worked at Philips Consumer Electronics and an ABC affiliated network.

Shantel has completed rotations in the Studio, Library Technology Services and is completing her year-long rotation at Pendergrass Agriculture/Veterinary Medicine Library. She is a member of American Library Association, Tennessee Library Association, and the Belonging and Engagement Committee. Her library interests include information literacy, next-generation learning, and the integration of media services in traditional libraries.

Read Shantel’s Legacy Report

LaVerne Gray, a former participant in ARL’s Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce, is an August 2005 graduate of Dominican University GSLIS. She holds a second master’s degree in Educational Psychology from Northern Illinois University, and a B.A. from Wilberforce University. LaVerne was inspired to become a librarian through her work as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Ivory Coast and Togo, West Africa (2001-2003). LaVerne’s first rotation was with the Digital Library Center. Her interests include technical and instructional services. She is currently a member of UT Library’s Belonging and Engagement Committee and the Staff Development Advisory Committee.

Read LaVerne’s Legacy Report

Mark Puente is a 2004 graduate of the University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science, and the Knowledge River program. He comes to UT after having worked at the University of Arizona Fine-Arts Library and the University of North Texas Music Library. Originally from San Antonio, TX, Mark was a private voice instructor for 12 years prior to moving to Knoxville. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in voice performance from St. Mary’s University and a Master of Arts in music from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX.

At the UT Libraries, Mark has worked in Access and Delivery Services, Technical Services (Cataloging), and is completing his year-long rotation in the Music Library. Other areas of interest include: conservation of music materials, LIS education, and diversity in academic libraries. He has served on the Dean’s Faculty Advisory Committee, the Spirit Awards Committee and the Libraries’ Belonging and Engagement Committee. Mark is a member of ALA and serves on the Spectrum Scholarship Special Interest Group. This year Mark was appointed to the Preservation Committee of the Music Library Association.

Read Mark’s Legacy Report


Jayati Chaudhuri earned her MLIS from the University of Rhode Island last fall. Ms. Chaudhuri holds a second masters in geography (University of Calcutta, India) and has been awarded numerous scholarships. Throughout her student career, Ms. Chaudhuri provided orientation for new international students, and she would like to do the same at the University of Tennessee. Another interest is improving the functionality and ease-of-use of the library’s Asian collection.

Read Jayati’s Legacy Report

Maud Mundava attended undergraduate school at the University of Cape Town in South Africa where she majored in History. After completing her undergraduate studies, she earned two post graduate diplomas, one in Library Science and a second in Organization and Management. From 1996-1998, she was a Teaching Assistant at Harare Polytechnic, School of Library Science. Subsequently, she worked at the University of Zimbabwe as a Social Sciences Assistant Librarian for two years.

In June 2001, Maud was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship to study at the University of New York at Buffalo, School of Informatics. She completed her MLS in May 2003 and was hired in September 2003 as a Minority Resident Librarian at the University of Tennessee Libraries.

Her research interests are varied. She believes that all aspects of our profession are interrelated and important, but her particular interest lies in reference and instructional service. She is interested in enabling users to be life long learners in order to effectively use information. With all the changes facing the library profession, marketing and strategic management become vital as instruments of managing change. In addition to marketing and strategic management, digitization is another area that intrigues her.

Kawanna Bright is a native of middle Tennessee. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma in 1998 and her M.L.I.S. from the University of Washington Information School in 2003.

Her professional and research interests include reference and instruction; the use of technology in instruction; diversity in librarianship; training; outreach and website design. She is currently working in the Reference and Instructional Services department. Her activities include liaison to the School of Information Sciences, Coordinator of the Libraries’ Workshops Series, and Coordinator of the Belonging and Engagement Committee’s Culture Corner project.

Read Kawanna’s Legacy Report

Diversity Action Plan

Learn how the libraries are working to advance access, accountability, an inclusive campus climate, and equity.

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