By Antonia Olivas
The presentations and poster sessions at the ACRL/NY’s 2015 Symposium focused on “social responsibility” and what it means for academic librarians to be activists. They looked at how diversity in our libraries affects how democratic we can be (or are not) to our patrons and to each other. Each session focused on diversity, equity, and social responsibility as ever-morphing concepts that we, as proactive professionals, have to continue to develop throughout our careers.
My experience at the ACRL/NY 2015 symposium was amazing, and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to attend! Not only was I lucky enough to meet other librarian-scholars who share my research interests, I was able to form new research collaborations with these new colleagues. This program allowed me to reignite my passion for librarianship, more specifically social justice and equity in libraries.
The specific “aha!” moment for me was stepping back and taking a hard look at my own biases. I realized that I subconsciously tune out the “uncomfortable” and embrace the diversity that suits me. This symposium made me recognize my own power and helped me learn to appreciate all qualities that make people unique. As our student population becomes more diverse, there will be more cultures, personalities, politics, religions, abilities, and so on, for us, as educators, to work with on a daily basis. In order to help those students become successful, we must learn to understand (or at least strive to learn in a respectful and sincere way) how all of those qualities affect us as a whole.
Antonia Olivas received her master’s in Information Resources & Library Science from the University of Arizona in 2003 where she was proud to be a part of the first cohort of Knowledge River graduates and a Spectrum scholar. She earned her doctorate from the joint doctoral program of CSU San Marcos (CSUSM) and UC San Diego in 2014, and her research focus is on the motivation to lead of underrepresented minority academic librarians and social justice and equity in academic libraries. She has been an academic librarian for over 12 years but has worked in both public and academic libraries for over 20 years. Dr. Olivas is currently the Education & Spanish Librarian at CSUSM where her responsibilities include providing information literacy to undergraduate and graduate students, providing research help to all CSUSM community members, and collection development for her subject areas as well as the Barahona Collection of Books in Spanish for Children and the Virginia Hansen Curriculum Collection for K-12 teachers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .