The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has awarded Robert D. Montoya a Fulbright award through their specialist program to perform much-needed services in the country of Kosovo.
Montoya, an assistant professor of information and library science at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, will work with the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo and the National Library of Kosovo to advise on the creation of a national curriculum to train the next generation of library and information professions. The goals will be to build a library and information science education program for Kosovo’s current and future professionals, foster collaboration and partnership between the country’s libraries to sustain these, and other, professional activities, and harmonize curriculum with current library types and services based on the country’s individual needs.
“I’ve worked in documentary institutions my entire career, so I’m keenly aware of their essential role in promoting and maintaining social equity and justice,” Montoya said. “I’m honored and humbled to be offered this Fulbright opportunity. Many people I’ve deeply admired have used the Fulbright opportunity to facilitate incredible social change to the benefit of many. My only hope is that I’m able to accomplish even a fraction of what these amazing people have done.”
Most cultural institutions were greatly impacted by the armed conflict that consumed Kosovo in the late 1990s. Much of the physical and intellectual infrastructure in the library system was completely destroyed, and efforts to rebuild the system have been slow.
“I’ll help the National Library build an information and library science education program that will meet the needs of current professionals as well as professionals eager to enter the field,” Montoya said. “I see my part as a minor role in Kosovo’s broader attempt to reclaim their cultural identity. I hope the foundation I help Kosovo articulate can propel the country’s cultural heritage institutions forward.
“Once my tenure in Kosovo is complete, I will work on programming to accompany this experience. This experience will bolster my teaching and show how the documentary and service-oriented work we do is fundamentally ethical work. I will also present this work to the IU community and intend on working with graduate students to build on this to make a lasting impact on Kosovo ILS services.”
The Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between people of the United States and the people of other countries. It was established in 1946 and is named after Arkansas senator J. William Fulbright who proposed the program to promote international good will through the exchange students and scholars in the fields of education, culture, and science.
“It cannot be overstated how important a thriving foundation of information and library science is to a country’s ability to develop and thrive,” said Ron Day, chair of ILS at SICE. “Kosovo has suffered terribly since its war-torn years, and rebuilding has been hampered by the damage done to its library system. Rob’s work in Kosovo will be critical to helping the country once again set an educational foundation on which to thrive.”