Job Position or MLIS Program
Adult Services Specialist at the Natrona County Library (Wyoming) and online MLIS student at the University of Washington iSchool (2019-2020 ALA Spectrum Scholar)
Primary Responsibilities at Work
Staffing the reference desk for research help and technology assistance, planning adult programs and technology classes, and DVD, video game, and adult Spanish language collection development.
How does your work align with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities?
My work tends to be on the smaller scale, as I have struggled to provide programs for Latinos and Spanish-speakers in my community. Staffing the reference desk is my primary means of reaching the community and I aim to introduce myself when I hear patrons speaking in Spanish. This gateway shows that they are represented, included, and welcome at the library. After making that initial connection, I can then show them other library services or answer any questions they have about other community resources. I also make sure to point out that we have another Spanish speaker on staff, so they are always more than welcome to ask for one of us. From a statistics standpoint, the Spanish collection is underused. However, the in-house browsing and goodwill it provides more than covers the need for the collection. Latino and Spanish-speaking communities in Wyoming have grown over the past decade, yet they remain drastically in the minority. Having a diverse staff to match the community is the first step in serving Latinos and the Spanish-speaking.
Latino and Spanish-speaking communities in Wyoming have grown over the past decade, yet they remain drastically in the minority.
Gratifying aspects of your work
Seeing the look of relief when Spanish-speaking patrons hear their native language is one of the best experiences I have felt. They immediately become more comfortable in the library and begin bringing in their children and families.
Some words of advice to other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students
Don’t give up. It may seem like your efforts are wasted, but one connection can quickly branch out into many. For students, take classes that contain social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. This foundation will help us better serve our communities after graduation.