The REFORMA Education Committee was reinvigorated in fall 2018 under the guidance of Chair Michele Villagran with members Denise Adkins, Monica Lopez, Alicia Martinez, Ana Ndumu, Elizabeth Borges Ocasio, and Jennifer Weisberg. A year prior, Madeline Peña and a colleague discussed the possibility of re-establishing the Education Committee. These plans came to fruition, and in October 2018 the committee was formed. An additional member, Kathy DeWeese, joined later that year.
This briefing reports on highlights of what the committee has accomplished since then, and upcoming initiatives that we wanted to share with the membership. During the first year, the committee revised their charge, goals, and objectives. It also ensured that revisions were available in English and Spanish on its website.
Over the spring and summer of 2019, the Education Committee developed an outreach campaign to promote REFORMA to library and information science programs, iSchools, and Teacher Librarian/School Library programs within the United States, Canada, and internationally. This project entailed the development of template language, assignments for outreach, and follow-ups. It resulted in the opportunity for current library school students that were non-members of REFORMA to join the organization with a one-year complimentary membership. Since the campaign began, over 60 students have taken advantage of this special offer. The campaign will run through the end of this academic year. We are grateful for the new students that have joined and encourage them to get involved with their local chapters and at the national level.
Currently, the committee of Adkins, DeWeese, Martinez, Ndumu and chair Villagran, are working on a project involving a marketing and outreach idea to help Latinx students succeed through library and information science recruitment, education, and curriculum. This is an initiative that goes well beyond REFORMA and offers the opportunity for strengthening our recruitment efforts of underserved and minorities to the profession. It is our hope that this project will include other affinity groups, agencies, and partners, to offer a wider reach where we all can benefit.
One such example of efforts in this area includes the recent 2020-2021 grant that co-PIs Ndumu and Villagran received from the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE). The REFORMA Education Committee is partnering with the REFORMA Mid-Atlantic Chapter and Prince George’s County Memorial Library System on a one-year pilot project to introduce refugees and immigrants to the library professions through a self-paced mini-course. Funding supports a collaboration to develop the course and then encourage participation among up to five immigrant or refugee adults who seek to apply their skills to the U.S. workforce. This project advances the ALISE Community conn@CT Mini-Grant’s mission of connecting with social justice organizations to create innovative solutions. In addition, it presents an avenue for increasing ethnic and racial diversity in the library field.
While we are busy planning the above large project, we are also going to develop guidelines for student chapters. The University of Wisconsin-Madison currently has a student chapter, and San José State University developed a School of Information student group in April 2020.
Stay tuned for additional updates on the above activities plus much more! We welcome you to visit us at reforma.org/education, and feel free to reach out if you have any ideas, suggestions or questions about our activities so we can best serve REFORMA and its members.