Pivoting and Leveraging in Order to Serve
Thursday, November 26, 2020
by: Joanna M. Arteaga La Spina

Section: News Articles

Fall 2020

Joanna is currently the Spanish Translation Coordinator at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL). She also serves as Chair of the Translations Committee at REFORMA and is a member of the REFORMA National Conference (RNC) VII Publicity and Marketing Sub Committee. She completed her MLIS in May 2020. Besides coordinating translations at SFPL, Joanna supports various departments and programs serving the homeless, the incarcerated, and those seeking literacy services at the literacy center. She also enhances the promotion of programs and services for the Spanish speaking. Prior to SFPL, Joanna worked for the San Mateo County Libraries coordinating adult literacy, family literacy, and early literacy initiatives and programs (provided in Spanish and English), as well as Career Online High School and Veterans Connect. Libraries are a second career for Joanna, after working for over 12 years in San Francisco non-profits, in the District Attorney’s Office of San Mateo County, and as an independent contractor providing services and advocacy for victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, other violent crimes, and undocumented minors detained by ICE. Joanna leverages her cultural and academic knowledge of the Spanish language and the power of diversity, having been born and raised in Colombia in a family of contrasts in languages used, cultural heritage, race, ethnicity, class, and education. She moved to San Francisco right after high school to attend San Francisco State University, where she earned a bachelors in Psychology with a minor in Holistic Health and completed the Legal Court Interpreting program at the same institution.

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“Creative” is one word to describe what the staff members at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) have done to maintain library services, effectively pivoting their skills to leverage the resources available to them amid the many challenges that this pandemic constantly brings. Among the many examples of that creative pivoting is what SFPL was able to do to celebrate Latino Hispanic Heritage Month and address the needs of San Franciscans.

Logos for San Francisco Public Library, The Mexican Museum, and ¡VIVA!; drawing of a bird, flowers, and a star on brown paper; several crayons and pastels.
¡VIVA! Latino Hispanic Heritage Month at SFPL centers on Harvesting Hope this 2020. This sentiment was clearly expressed by the City Librarian, Michael Lambert: “We want ¡VIVA! to be a bright spot for the community during these challenging times.”

SFPL celebrates ¡VIVA! by offering engaging ways for the community to experience Latino Hispanic culture, all done through virtual platforms and enhanced by collaborations with partners.

Adults can enjoy the scholar Will Maynez, who discusses Diego Rivera’s time in San Francisco (SF) in anticipation of SFMOMA’s Diego Rivera’s America, and the talk with Celia Star, author of Frida In America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist. Through a partnership with The Mexican Museum, the community has access to a visual presentation of Mexican artists who were instrumental in a movement blending politics and beauty, and a presentation by the well-known Mexican contemporary painter Daniel Lezama. In addition, the community gets to learn from a panel of queer Latinx cultural producers, as well as a program in Spanish for Día de Muertos with Oaxacan-born local artist Calixto Robles. 

On the Same Page, September/October 2020 ¡VIVA! Selection, San Francisco Reads Pura Neta by Benjamin Bac Sierra, ¡VIVA! Latino Hispanic Heritage Month, Harvesting Hope; woman dressed for Day of the Dead and posing in front of a classic car, portrait of Benjamin Bac Sierra.
Authors of compelling works compose a key part of ¡VIVA! Roberto Lovato, Salvadoran-American journalist, reads from his book Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas, and discusses his work with award-winning author Ingrid Rojas Contreras. The author, educator, activist, and SF native Benjamin Bac Sierra talks about his new book, Pura Neta, the sequel to Barrio Bushido. Members of Las Musas, the groundbreaking author collective, discuss their latest works, Latinx cultural elements, and offer advice for young writers. And the former Poet Laureate of SF Alejandro Murguía and guests read their poetry.

This article was written to inspire and recharge library staff struggling to figure out what to do in spite of the challenges we all face during this pandemic.

Among the programs for youth and families are a family concert by Latin Grammy winners The Lucky Band, a family cooking class presented in Spanish, weekly live storytimes in Spanish, and, in partnership with The Mexican Museum, an amate paper craft.

This virtual world also required librarians to lean into their skills for programs such as a family book talk led by librarians who highlighted new and old favorite Latinx KidLit titles after serving on the Pura Belpré Award Selection Committee.

A handshake between two hands; a green logo with the words Work It, Jobs, Business, Finance.

Further addressing the impact of the pandemic in the lives of San Franciscans, SFPL developed a series of virtual programs focused on supporting job and career seekers, personal finance needs, and small business resources, leveraging the significant increase in the use of free eLearning platforms accessible through the Public Library and responding to the 12.5% unemployment rate in San Francisco. The virtual series, Work It, includes programs on writing resumes, obtaining California State jobs, and exploring ways older adults can use their life experiences to find employment. In addition, new and ongoing partnerships allow SFPL to offer CalJOBS for Beginners in Spanish and Cantonese and maintain a robust menu of resources, from career coaching to expanded one-on-one counseling on budgeting basics.

An older woman smiling as she looks at the notebook in which she is writing; a green logo with the words Work It, Jobs, Business, Finance.

The above programming is the product of a deep commitment to access and librarianship, as well as to collaboration and diversity. This article was written to inspire and recharge library staff struggling to figure out what to do in spite of the challenges we all face during this pandemic.
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