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Library & Information Science Success Stories

Brenda Mitchell-Powell '08LS

Title: Doctoral Student


Brenda Mitchell-Powell believes "multiculturalism" is not a contemporary social/political concept that exists in isolation with so-called "minority" populations or with specific occupations. "Our nation is increasingly diverse, and we must acknowledge and respect the impact and needs of a society and culture in transition, not only for the benefit of all of our own citizens, but also for improved relations with the wider world," says Mitchell-Powell. "As information providers, librarians have a responsibility to bring multicultural perspectives to their work. For too long, the library has been an exclusively white bastion. Many individuals have not been library users because they felt unwelcome or because their needs were not addressed. I'm passionate about changing that."

At the age of 50, after more than 15 years working as a freelance editor in the library community, Brenda Mitchell-Powell decided to reinvent herself by accepting a position as a college library assistant. For a woman who had secured her very first library card at the age of four, it was like coming full circle. "I had always thought of libraries as sacred places. My fervor for books and libraries has magnified over the years. I decided to turn this passion into a profession."

Never one to do anything halfway, Mitchell-Powell committed herself to on-the-job training and to graduate study at Simmons. "Making a conscious decision to return to school in late adulthood means I struggle to balance familial and career needs, as well as class assignments," she says. "I've noticed that as an older student, however, I am more contemplative and deeply engaged by coursework and more committed to my education. I have had two successful careers and am now seeking an alternative path that fulfills a dream. I have much to offer the profession: wisdom gained from experience, patience learned from deferred gratification, and perspective mastered through an understanding of the ‘big picture.'"