The Leader in the Digital Age: How to Engage with a Digital Community and Culture
Thursday, November 26, 2020
by: Mary Luz Marques

Section: News Articles

Fall 2020

Mary Marques works as bilingual Library Coordinator at the Free Library of Philadelphia . Mary served as REFORMA Northeast (RNE) President for 2015-2016; currently, she supports RNE as the Chair of the Leadership Institute. Mary holds a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from Clarion University (USA), and a second Master’s Degree in Bilingual/Bicultural Studies from La Salle University (USA), and a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Science, Journalism, from Inca Garcilaso de la Vega University (Peru).

COVID-19 has changed the way we interact in all the spheres of our lives. Now, our homes are the operational centers for personal interactions, professional work, and the enjoyment of leisure time. As library professionals, we have created a virtual world that supports creativity, innovation, and collaboration for community engagement.

This webinar, presented by the REFORMA Northeast (RNE) Leadership Institute, introduces two examples of program collaboration that use an online platform and support technology to learn, communicate, engage, and interact with the virtual audience.

Speakers sharing their experiences and wisdom at the first leadership webinar!
Speakers sharing their experiences and wisdom at the first leadership webinar!​

Going Virtual: Opportunities, Challenges, and Rewards

“Facing New Challenges, Working in Communities, Responding to Crisis” was the first virtual conference that the RNE Joint-Mini Conference Committee put together without any written guidelines. This professional development program is considered the main project of the chapter president. The challenge, during this time of pandemic, was how to offer this event virtually. “It is definitely a team effort that requires organization, constant communication, and a can-do attitude,” highlighted Adriana Blancarte-Hayward, RNE Immediate Past President.

The result of this learning journey and team effort was very rewarding. During this leadership conversation, Manuel Figueroa, RNE Treasurer, stated that the pandemic has been a very difficult situation, but at the same time it has provided many opportunities for professional growth. Finally, Asunción Cora, current RNE President 2020-2021, mentioned that collaborating in a virtual setting is very different from doing so in-person, and that another set of skills is required.

In this webinar, the team presents the RNE Virtual Joint-Mini Conference Guide as a way to encourage other members to take off with any virtual project.

Collaboration and Partnership: Developing Strong Skills to Succeed

The “REFORMA Virtual Spanish Language Book Buzz Series” was the result of a publisher’s request. Because of the pandemic, all major international book fairs, such as LIBER (Spain), Guadalajara (Mexico), Buenos Aires, and Colombia, were cancelled. The coordination of this event took only three weeks for its organizing committee.

Libbhy Romero, REFORMA National Newsletter Coordinator, asserted that this project helped the team learn new things that they didn’t know before. Anna Avalos, member of the 2019 Pura Belpré Award Selection Committee, mentioned that this project helped REFORMA gain more members and professional visibility at the national level. In the final round of the conversation, Maunel Figueroa highlighted that collaboration, interpersonal and organizational skills, being able to compromise, and listening to the other members of the team are vital capabilities that must be cultivated through active participation and a willingness to explore.

The Joint-Mini Conference and the Book Buzz projects are good examples of partnership and creation of content.

Important skills that we need to sharpen often.
Important skills that we need to sharpen often.​

The REFORMA Northeast Leadership Institute

This is a new project addition for this chapter. The online webinars are intended to develop leadership skills in the members of this region. The main objective of the Leadership Institute is to promote the formation of emerging bilingual/multilingual diverse leaders through the sharing of centered librarianship skills and knowledge. This proposal highlighted the following learning outcomes: 
  • Share skills and knowledge on leadership topics such as branding, communication, online/in-person meeting facilitation, community outreach and engagement, among other topics
  • Develop opportunities to network, build support, and participate in group projects
  • Take the lead in community projects
  • Build a strong community of diverse leaders in the librarianship field
If you have an idea for a program, don’t be shy! Reach out to your local chapter representatives and support your proposal with resources and strong arguments. Explore alternatives and connect with staff that match the skills that you need to make your project a reality. REFORMA is a think tank of talented librarians that is developing amazing projects to promote integration, diversity, and equality in our multicultural/multilingual communities. If you would like to watch the recording of the first webinar, The Leader in the Digital Age, please click this link: #RNEDiverseLeaders. For additional information about the RNE Leadership Institute, please visit or
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