May 31, 2022

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Joy Woodson, Assistant Director, Marketing and Communications, GALILEO

USG Permanently Endows Scholarship Fund in Honor of Trailblazing Librarian

VALDOSTA — The University System of Georgia Foundation has permanently endowed the Merryll Penson Scholarship Fund, a GALILEO initiative honoring the work of a trailblazing former director.

Donations from EBSCO ($30,000) and ProQuest ($27,500) recently helped grow the fund to a threshold allowing it to be available for future aspiring librarians. To date, about $66,900 has been donated to the fund, including $9,400 in individual contributions.

“We’re grateful for the generous support that EBSCO and ProQuest have provided to permanently endow this scholarship,” said Lucy Harrison, GALILEO’s current executive director. “Merryll has been a tireless advocate for libraries in Georgia, and it’s exciting to see that advocacy continue with the next generation of librarians.”

Funds from the scholarship support students pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science at Valdosta State University. VSU has Georgia’s only accredited library sciences program.

Since 2019, VSU has awarded $10,000 in scholarships aimed at MLIS students with documented financial need. Recent honorees were celebrated in April. Each award covers tuition and most fees for one MLIS course.

“We are so grateful to EBSCO and ProQuest for donating the funds needed to endow the Merryll Penson Scholarship fund and to the original donors who contributed the first funds in honor of Merryll Penson at her retirement,” shared Dr. Linda R. Most, associate professor and head of VSU’s Department of Library and Information Studies. “We also thank the USG Foundation for facilitating the scholarship process. Our deepest thanks go to Lucy Harrison and her leadership team at GALILEO for continuing Merryll Penson’s legacy of advocating for libraries in Georgia. We are honored that our Valdosta State Master of Library and Information Science students will be the continuing beneficiaries of Merryll Penson’s vision for GALILEO and for the interconnected information networks she developed that we benefit from today. Because of these scholarships, Merryll Penson’s influence will continue through the careers of the students the funds will support.”

Penson, who served as GALILEO executive director from 2000 to 2016, led efforts to create GALILEO while library director at Columbus State University She retired in 2016, capping a 32-year career as a spirited advocate for Georgia libraries.

Penson was integral in establishing GALILEO, as well as the GALILEO Interconnected Libraries and the New Georgia Encyclopedia. Additionally, she strengthened and expanded the Digital Library of Georgia, the Civil Rights Digital Library, and the Georgia Knowledge Repository.

Upon Penson’s retirement, the scholarship fund was created in her name to support the professional growth of librarians and library staff in Georgia.

“This is obviously very thrilling and exciting to know that people feel the importance of helping students learn and wanting to have librarians in place,” Penson said.

“Quite honestly when it started I was really very floored that people thought to do that in my name,” she added. “I’m happy that we’re able to move forward in this way and continue because I think we will always need librarians.”

Visit to donate to the Merryll Penson Scholarship Fund.

Contact Dr. Linda R. Most at 229-245-6534 or to learn more about VSU’s Master of Library and Information Science degree program.

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