The $435,000 grant comes from the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, which is administered by the National Institute of Museum and Library Services. First Lady Laura Bush, herself a former librarian, created the program and the grants to deal with a national shortage of library specialists. Houston library spokeswoman Sandra Fernandez says the shortage is real and getting worse all the time.
"We don't have people in library school to take all the positions that are going to be vacant when our librarians start to retire."
The Laura Bush grants are used to train library staff, and provide scholarships for people majoring in library science. Fernandez says the Houston Library will offer a total of 15 scholarships to the Master of Library Sciences online degree program at the University of North Texas.
"The great thing about this is that it's going to allow us to select ten applicants from inside the library, people who are already working in youth services, who have a bachelor's degree, who would like to proceed and go on to become librarians, and allow us to pick five applicants from the community."
The Houston Public Library is one of 35 recipients of this year's Laura Bush grants nationwide, and it's also the only public library to get a grant through the program. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.