The University of South Carolina has named Nicole Cooke the recipient of the 2021 Social Justice Award. Cooke, a three-time SC&I alumna, is the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and an
Associate Professor at the School of Information Science, in UofSC’s College of Information and Communications.
In an announcement, the University of South Carolina wrote that the award was “created to recognize individuals who have exemplified the philosophies of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. through random or ongoing acts of community service, social justice or racial reconciliation.”
In an interview with UofSC, Cooke said, “Some of the work I do is to encourage people to do more than read the books (about anti-racism). All of that is fabulous, but I need people to do more than that. What are you going to do with the knowledge you receive from those books? We need to take the new information and turn it into action . . . Social justice is action; it is working to make things better for everyone, even when it’s not convenient for you.”
Cooke received her bachelor’s degree in 1997, in Communication, Master of Library Science in 1999 (now known as the Master of Information), and Ph.D. in 2012 from SC&I. She also earned a M.Ed. from Pennsylvania State University. She worked as a librarian for 13 years before pursuing her doctoral degree.
Professor Emerita of Library and Information Science Betty J. Turock wrote, “Nicole is completing a book,Foundations of Social Justice, for the 59,000 member American Library Association (ALA) and she has a proposal with MIT Press for a second one about fake news, moving her research beyond the similar title ALA published recently. In ALA she is Chair of President Julius Jefferson’s Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee and on incoming President Patty Wong's Overall Advisory Committee. At ALA’s 2021 Virtual Midwinter Meeting held last weekend she was a member of the program panel that addressed “Anti-Racism and Women in Librarianship” with Past President Loida Garcia-Febo among others. She is truly making Rutgers proud and she has so much more on her To Do list.”
Professor and Chair of the Department of Library and Information Science, Marie L. Radford, added, “Nicole recently spoke at a Master of Information colloquium that was sponsored also by our SCARLA (Student College, Academic, and Research Library Association) MI student organization. She engaged students in a conversation about social justice issues and libraries. She is so generous in giving back to Rutgers students, who were thrilled that she accepted their invitation.”
Cooke received the award from UofSC at a January 14 event where she and the other award recipients were recognized by University of South Carolina’s President Bob Caslen.
Read Cooke’s full interview with UofSC on the website.