Rider librarian accepted into prestigious Fulbright Senior Specialist Program

Dr. Sharon Yang spent November teaching abroad at the University of Bahrain
Megan Lupo

This fall, Sharon Yang became the 22nd Rider faculty member to win a Fulbright Award, earning a spot in the Fulbright Senior Specialist Program. The program provides an exclusive opportunity for academics and professionals to share their expertise at a host institution for two to six weeks.

Yang, a professor and librarian, was assigned to teach the University of Bahrain’s library staff — which had no formal library or information science degrees — about information literacy, faculty collaboration, fair use, open educational resources and more.

“It was a good opportunity to get to know the people of Bahrain, the culture and to see a new place,” Yang says. “It was also a learning experience for me because I learned some new things in my own field I wasn’t aware of during the preparation process.”

Despite the Arabic language barrier, Bahrain’s librarians, as well as library staff sent from neighboring universities, were determined and eager to learn the American information literacy standards.

“I became very fond of these people, who were sitting in my class every day,” Yang says. “It’s very sad to know that I will never get to see them ever again. It was very hard to leave.”

Yang was initially accepted into the Fulbright Senior Specialist Program in 2016. She was driven to apply for the program not only for its international prestige but because she aspired to help those in other countries.

Associate Provost and Legal Counsel for Academic Affairs James Castagnera had no doubt Yang fit the criteria for the program.

“Sharon’s diligent,” Castagnera, who’s also an associate professor for legal studies and American studies, says. “She’s always presenting papers somewhere and is the key link between the library and locating digital information. We depend upon our massive electronic databases, and she’s one of the people that makes sure they work.”

For the University Libraries, Yang oversees the integrated library system.

“I manage a library system called Sierra. The front end of the system is the library catalog and discovery service where students and faculty search for articles and books,” Yang says. “I also teach research, and do reference work, [as well as] publish and serve on committees, [such as the Educational Opportunity Program].”

Yang’s work ethic came in handy during the preparation process as she dedicated five months learning 23 subjects to teach. Senior specialists must be well-rounded in all areas of their subject matter.

“It was a lot of pressure. I spent every night, every weekend, doing nothing but work on this,” Yang says. “There was so much to read and a lot of statistics to cover.”

Despite the late nights and extensive research, Yang would not trade the experience. “It was such a rewarding and once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget,” she says.