2018 Symposium Student Scholarship Winner – Alvina Lai

By Alvina Lai Alvina Lai

It is my pleasure to say that my first symposium was such a positive experience. From the topics discussed to the people I met, I was time and time again impressed and inspired by the knowledge and motivation in the room. The day, organized clearly by theme, was broad in topic and precise in mission. Professionals presented their ideas, research, and projects, such as Indigenous representation, book reclassification for visibility, and empowering resident librarians, just to name a few, in the name of action.

As a student who is starting out in the field, it provided me not only standards and goals, but ways to achieve those goals. If I start cataloging books, I now know to consider the words I use to classify them. If I start archiving artwork, I now know to act on the values of inclusiveness and authenticity. The symposium created with a framework by which to improve not only technical aspects of library work, but conceptual and ethical aspects as well.

Before this symposium, I had no sense of the library landscape. I was siloed in academica and knew little outside of the classroom. At the symposium, I learned about struggles of librarians, librarian staff, and underrepresented groups. I also learned about ways to help them and each other. Ultimately, I learned about community and mentorship. As I grow under the guidance of amazing people, I hope that I can also one day be a mentor that inspires action, just as the folks at the symposium that day.

Alvina Lai is the Research Coordinator at the Metropolitan Opera and a Graduate Student at Pratt Institute. They previously worked at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Fashion Institute of Technology Foundation, and the Rubin Museum. A graduate from Parsons the New School for Design, Alvina is interested in providing access to art in academic and cultural institutions. Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/alvinaahl