The UCI Libraries has a long tradition of providing community education and outreach due in large part to the vision of University Librarian, Gerry Munoff. He created a program for the Libraries to provide research and lifelong learning skills to young students from economically deprived schools in southern California.

Students from a local Santa Ana middle school
leave the Science Library after participating in a
SPIRIT "Day at College" research session

The School Partnerships for Instruction, Research and Information Technology (SPIRIT) program was established in 1998 with a big dream to make a difference through the small, powerful moments experienced by the students in a one-day visit to campus. Students participate in customized UCI library research sessions that enrich their regular curriculum with information literacy concepts. SPIRIT joins UCI faculty and research librarians with school teachers and students from Santa Ana, Compton, and west side Newport school districts in an unprecedented collaboration to teach lifelong learning skills.

The program's success is in the numbers – nearly 8,000 students have benefited from the SPIRIT program – and in the impact on the students. A teacher shared the impact on her students after participating in SPIRIT, "Your message that college is an option for my students and that they should pursue it is powerful because it is a message they haven't heard or believe is possible. You have inspired them to achieve a college education as a way to improve their lives. Thank you."

The program's success is in the numbers – nearly 8,000 students have benefited from the SPIRIT program – and in the impact on the students.

In addition to SPIRIT, Cathy Palmer, Head of Education and Outreach, focuses her time on the general education of the UCI community. Her vision is educating current students to become information literate while recognizing the interdisciplinary nature of information. She hopes that through the efforts of the Libraries, students will graduate with the ability to locate, manage, critically evaluate, and synthesize information, and use information ethically for problem solving and decision making.

As scholarship becomes increasingly global, librarians become even more critical in teaching our students and local youth how to navigate this extensive web of information.

"Digital Learning and Research" is a fundraising priority for the Libraries in the current comprehensive universitywide fundraising campaign, Shaping the Future. With private support for our education and outreach programs, we will be able to shape the future of many more students and our local community. Please contact Jenny Oenning, Director of Development, if you would like to learn more about the programs or opportunities to give.