Networking and joining different associations is extremely important for library school students. I personally joined ALA, NCLA, and YALSA, among others during my first semester. It is imperative for us as students to join not only because the membership is cheaper but because of all the tools available.
I’m from a Latino background, and I thought that it would be very difficult to find an association that was geared toward Latino librarians. After conducting some research and speaking to a few Hispanic librarians I learned about REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latino and Spanish Speakers.
REFORMA is composed of many Hispanic and bilingual librarians throughout the nation. It is a great way to learn about other libraries and programs that provide services to the Hispanic public. What I really liked about REFORMA is that there is a Chapter per Region; since I’m from NY I belong to the Northeast Chapter. It is really easy to join you would go the their website http://www.reforma.org/ . From the you click on get involved and choose Join. You will then be part of the chapter closest to where you live. Library school students are eligible to pay $10 per year for membership. Once we become librarians we pay depending on our yearly wage.
This is such a great community to be part of and to network in. As soon as I became a member I was invited to their gmail blast group. It is really interesting because public librarians, academic librarians, authors, and even book vendors are involved. Through the emails you can receive valuable information about library programs, book releases, and even job openings. They also email information about up-coming library school scholarships their association provides. I have taken advantage of the gmail group when I get stuck while doing research; everyone is extremely nice and reach out to help in any way.
I was fortunate enough to find out that my Chapter offered a scholarship for Latino Library School students. The Lillian Marrero Scholarship established in 2010 was created to encourage library science students who are committed to serving the Latino community by providing financial assistance, and to help recruit and nurture more diverse and multilingual library staffs. I decided to apply and in April I was sent a wonderful email from Mr. Louis Muniz the scholarship chairperson, informing me I had been chosen as the winner for 2016.
To receive the scholarship I attended the 12h Annual Joint Mini Conference & World Languages Book Fair held at the Free Library of Philadelphia (Parkway Central library Branch), were I was able to meet many librarian from NYPL, Queens, Brooklyn, Pennsylvania, and I was even able to meet Angela Dominguez the author of a children’s book Mango, Abuela, and Me. At this conference there were many presentations that helped me grow as a professional. One of my favorites had to be the presentation called Edible ESL, which is a program housed at the Free Library that helps “New Americans” learn English while cooking! Who new right? Its truly amazing and it would totally be something I would implement as a bilingual librarian. This conference also had a small international books fair where I was able to make connection with books vendors. I spoke representatives from to Lectorum Publications and Spanish Publishers that focus on books in Spanish. I was also able to make connections with Sentrum Bookstore for Libraries, where books in Russian, Chinese and many other languages can be purchased. The representatives provided me with useful information when purchasing materials from them in the future. I was also able to receive many business cards from various librarians, and educators that are willing to help with any questions, or program doubts I may have.
Attending conferences and being parts of associations is something that is huge for us as library students. We get to mingle with other librarians and pick their brains to grow professionally, and bring something fresh to out classrooms. REFORMA is an association I highly recommend for Latino library school students. Above I’ve attached links – please feel free to reach out to them and see what they are all about!