I am a Librarian Supervisor at the Hillsboro Public Library - Shute Park Branch. My position's primary responsibilities is to organize and manage the work of our events planning team at the branch. I am also the selector for Spanish-language materials for our library system. A big part of my work focuses on staff development and training, and cultivating relationships with other city partners and neighborhood organizations.
Tell us a little bit about the community where you work.
The City of Hillsboro is Oregon's 5th largest city with a population just over 100,000 residents and 22.6% Hispanic population. Hillsboro is regionally known for being home to several high-tech companies, including Intel and SolarWorld. Some of our annual events include Celebrate Hillsboro, the Latino Cultural Festival, and the Oregon International Air Show. Hillsboro is also home to the Portland metro area’s only professional baseball team, the Hillsboro Hops.
Can you tell us about some programs or services that you’re excited about at your library?
At the branch level, we wanted to provide more maker activities for families. A year ago, we started a weekly drop-in program called MakerLab with rotating activities throughout the month in our multi-purpose room. Activities can range from circuits to knitting and fabric activities to screen printing and dye-cut crafts. Its been great seeing how patrons engage with each other during the program; from children helping each other learn how to use Makey Makeys or seeing adults teaching teens how to knit. It's also been great to see what I call our "signature events" grow every year. These include Día de los Niños and Día de muertos. I've personally also hosted several local Spanish-speaking author events that have attracted a new audience to the library.
A service I am particularly proud of is our new Homework Help program. This past school year, we worked with our volunteer coordinator and outreach division to start hosting and after-school drop-in homework help program for students up to 12th grade. Having a team of dedicated community volunteers that run this program has been the key to it's success.
Tell us about the favorite part of your position and why.
When I became a Supervisor, I wasn't sure it would be for me, but it has truly become one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I am passionate about recruitment and retention of diverse staff and believe this is the most critical thing you can do in expanding library services to underserved and underepresented populations. It's a powerful thing to be in a position where I can make a direct impact in this area. I love mentoring and coaching staff to help them meet their work and career goals, even helping them identify strengths they didn't realize they had!
Are there challenges that you face in your work?
On a personal level, the biggest challenge for me has been in transitioning from a Librarian to a Supervisor. It was tough to let go of providing direct services to patrons, especially putting together events and doing storytimes.
At the branch level, the ongoing challenge is about making the library space work for a variety of patron needs. We're always thinking of how to best utilize the physical space in a way that can be flexible and dynamic.
Can you share some advice or tips you have for working with and/or providing services and materials for the Spanish-speaking / Latino community?
- Our collective REFORMA chapter brain is awesome! Reach out the your colleagues across the state, we are there and happy to help.
- Find your allies. Find a co-worker that will advocate right along with you and echo your proposal and/or project. Better yet, if you find a supervisor or manager that is supportive of your ideas, seek their support and mentoring.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. There are community agencies and organizations who are doing wonderful outreach to Latinos or have expertise and want to partner with the library to reach out to new Spanish-speaking audiences.
- When it comes to materials for the Spanish-speaking/Latino community it is important to recognize that not all Latinos are the same. There are cultural differences, variations with levels of bilingualism (Spanish-English), and indigenous populations whose native language is not Spanish. And of course, Latinos from all over Mexico and Latin America and taking a little time to find out what your local population looks like goes along way.
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