Posted January 15, 2020
By Maria Jutton, Dean's Communications Fellow
Last fall, SLIS welcomed Nicole Cooke as its new Augusta Baker Chair in Childhood Literacy. In this position, she advances
the school’s literacy efforts through teaching, speaking engagements, advocacy and
more. She also introduces her audiences to Augusta Baker, the trailblazing African
American librarian and storyteller for whom the chair is named.
Since joining the faculty, Cooke has drawn from her extensive research in the areas
of diversity and social justice in librarianship to expand the position’s scope.
In her first semester on the job, she has already represented the university at several
conferences, given keynote speeches and won two awards.
“I feel like I haven’t stopped moving since I got here,” Cooke says. “But after all,
this position is all about outreach.”
Here are some highlights of what Cooke has accomplished so far and a glimpse into
her next steps.
A recap of fall 2019:
- Presented at International Society for Research in Children’s Literature conference
in Stockholm, Sweden.
- Delivered the keynote address at the South Carolina State Library’s Equity, Diversity,
and Inclusion day.
- Received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Association of Library and Information
- Presented at the Library Research Services conference that was hosted by SLIS and
the University Libraries.
- Gave a keynote speech at South Carolina Library Association conference.
- Delivered the keynote session at an all-staff training day at Charleston County Public
- Presented at the Association for the Study of African American History and Life conference
- Received the Intellectual Freedom Award from Illinois Library Association for her
work on combatting online bullying and harassment.
- Participated as an expert scholar and advisory board member for the American Library
Association’s Media Literacy for Adults Initiative.
- Gave a keynote speech at Georgia Public Library Service’s consortium for the public
What she’s looking forward to this spring:
- Traveling to Antwerp for an immersive children’s literature institute.
- Two keynotes with South Carolina Association of School Librarians.
- Attending the SxSW conference to represent CIC and attend sessions on storytelling
and media literacy.
- Keynoting the 12th Annual Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies Graduate Student
Conference and Workshop at the University of New Mexico.
- Presenting the inaugural Augusta Baker Lecture in coordination with the Annual Baker’s
Dozen Storytelling Festival.
- Presenting at the Children’s Literature Association conference.
- A community reception to welcome Cooke, which will include Augusta Baker’s family,
at Richland Library in February.
Cooke hopes to increase awareness of Augusta Baker’s legacy through working with Baker’s
archives, writing articles and potentially a book exploring her accomplishments. She
will also continue to extend SLIS’ commitment to community literacy and to make it
the destination program for students of color.
“My day-to-day work is getting more folks to the library school and meeting colleagues
in the community when I give talks and presentations,” Cooke says. “It’s really about
raising the profile of the profession nationally and globally.”
Maria Jutton is a fourth-year journalism student and Dean's Communications Fellow
at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. She is especially passionate
about international communications and will pursue overseas work after she graduates
in May 2020.