• Burnaby Beacon
  • Posts
  • Burnaby Public Library announces scholarships for BIPOC library school students

Burnaby Public Library announces scholarships for BIPOC library school students

The Picard Trust awards will be available only to BIPOC students intending to pursue a master’s in library studies in Canada

Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) Burnaby residents and BIPOC Burnaby Public Library (BPL) employees can now apply for one of two Picard Trust awards to pursue a graduate degree in library studies. Only applicants accepted into a master’s program at a library school in Canada will be eligible for the $2,500 awards. Applicants can submit their application online before the Feb. 15, 2024 deadline. 

According to Beth Davies, chief librarian at BPL, these awards aim to add diversity to BPL’s librarians.

“We know Burnaby is a diverse city, and we want Burnaby residents to see themselves reflected in our libraries, whether that’s through the books on the shelves or programs we offer or the people who answer their questions,” Davies told the Beacon. An added advantage to a diverse workforce is that newcomers can get service in their home languages. 

Librarian holding a Burnaby Public Library card. Photo: Burnaby Public Library

Davies estimates that BPL employs 200 people, around 70 of whom are librarians. Although the library has been offering awards for many years, it started restricting scholarships to BIPOC applicants in 2022. While the library does not keep formal records on the racial backgrounds of its employees, Davies said before 2022, scholarships had not been awarded diversely. 

The awards are open to anyone residing in Burnaby and planning on pursuing a master’s degree at a Canadian library school. There is no citizenship or residency requirement, and it is open to international students and temporary residents alike. However, preference may be given to applicants with a strong connection to the library and its programs. BIPOC library employees are eligible if they do not already have a master’s degree in library studies. 

“We’re really excited about this,”  Davies said. “We know that increasing the diversity of librarians at Burnaby Public Library and the broader library community will lead to stronger library services that meet the needs of more residents.”  

The application form does not require additional documents or references, although successful applicants must provide proof of enrollment in a master’s program at a Canadian library school. A group of library trustees will select successful applicants based on several criteria, such as financial need, depth of connection to Burnaby and BPL, and whether they have been long-time BPL employees or Burnaby residents.

This piece was made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

Like what you just read? Do you support local journalism? Help us keep going—and growing.

Sign up for our once a week newsletter, or become an Insider to show your love for local reporters and writers.