Your job position and place of employment
Early Literacy/Reading Program Specialist, Long Beach Public Library
Current MLIS program and/or educational background
Starting at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Fall 2021, have a BA in Spanish from CSULB
What are your primary responsibilities at work?
I work in the Youth and Family Services Department at the Long Beach Public Library, and in my role I provide system wide programming for children and families, reference, outreach, and help coordinate Summer Reading and Dive Into Reading, the Long Beach Public Library’s version of 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. I also assist with bilingual and Spanish language programming efforts or initiatives.
How does your work impact Latinx and Spanish-speaking communities?
The City of Long Beach is 47% Latinx, and 34% of the population speaks Spanish. I’m privileged to work with a supervisor, Cynthia Bautista, who is also biliterate and bicultural so we constantly strive to provide programming, outreach materials, reference, and services in both English and Spanish. We also advocate for Spanish speakers when the library is implementing new services or programs. There’s highs and lows, sometimes we fail, sometimes we feel frustrated, sometimes we triumph and do a little dance, but we keep luchando no matter what.
Share with us some gratifying aspects of your work.
I love to see the everyday impacts of the work we do, those daily interactions with members of my community. From the moment of gratitude when you help someone attach a document to an email, the excitement when someone loved a book you recommended, or the absolute relief you see in someone when you say “Sí, hablo español.” On occasion I get a hug from a storytime kid or a patron tells me they loved a program I was involved with and it’s nice to know I’m doing my little bit to enrich the lives of others. I grew up at the library, it provided me with a space to learn and grow. As an adult I'm striving to be for someone else what my childhood librarians were for me. It’s an honor to serve my community, and especially through an organization that gave me so much.
Offer words of advice to other colleagues and/or present and future MLIS students.
Mainly for people new to libraries: get to know the circulation staff! Learn how to check books out, check books in, make library cards, process holds, work the cash register, etc. That way when you’re walking by circulation and you see they have a line, you can be equipped to get behind the desk and give them a hand. Clerks and pages always know what’s going on, and do tons of vital work for not a lot of credit so be sure to know them, support them and treat them with respect.
Tell us about programs/projects you have worked on or are working on, either at work or with REFORMA.
Some of the ones that stand out are:
Cuentos y Cantos, a bilingual storytime in tandem with Spectrum recipient Luisa Leija, which features original translations of songs, books and fingerplays to make the entire program completely bilingual and culturally relevant to Latinos and Latin Americans.
Tell us about services you/your organization is providing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
LBPL is providing curbside pickup service and plenty of virtual programming such as storytimes and book talks. I'm currently delivering Circle of Stories/Círculo de Cuentos, a small group live Zoom storytime with sessions in English and Spanish. The participants received a backpack with manipulatives and an Activity Guide featuring songs and extension activities to do at home as part of the storytime. The program ends with a Parent Workshop and then we start all over with a new crop of kids. It's nice to be interacting with kids again!