This Week 12/16/2019–12/20/2019

I apologize for the delay in this series of posts. Work (and life) have gotten very hectic and sometimes recounting it saps what very little energy I do have. I realize I don’t really enjoy recounting everything I have done and will work on figuring out an intermediary approach to these posts in the future. Here is what I did this week:

  • visited a regional campus
  • administrative tasks
  • attended my last Spanish class
  • found a revolutionary way to handle tasks in my planner
  • libraries holiday party
  • met with libraries marketing department about an area studies website
  • started collection development work in GOBI
  • figured out how to successfully scan items

Here are my general reflections:

  • I’m not sure if I prefer a larger campus to a smaller one. Do I want to be a generalist or a specialist?
  • I’m sad that my Spanish class is over, but happy that my Monday nights are mine again. Also, how do I plan on continuing my language learning?
  • Using a rolling task list in my Moleksine Weekly Notebook has been a game changer. I have always struggled with what to do with tasks that did not have defined due dates and this list on the right side of my planner gives me the flexibility to list those items without having to go back and erase them or run out of space. On the left sheet of paper, I have my weekly schedule. This is where I will put meetings or activities that are defined by time. On the right side, I have my task list. I brain dump everything I need to do at some point in the near future and then mark them off with an x when I’ve done them. If I wanted to soft schedule a task for a particular day, I would put an open circle under the day I plan to do it. If I succeed in completing it on that day, I just fill in the circle, draw the line to the bullet point next to the task, then put an x through the bullet. In my picture, I have “continue DACA LibGuide” soft scheduled for Friday. To denote that a task is cancelled, I cross it out. On my task list, “figure out class I want to take” is cancelled. At the end of the week, I see what tasks have not been done, and then I decide if they go on next weeks list or if they should be cancelled. I love this system!

  • The holiday party was really fun but made me realize that I’m really not great at socializing. Also, someone won a 100 dollar gift card!
  • GOBI work is pretty fun but the stress of making the “right” decision makes it difficult. I want to buy things that are going to be used, but I also cant say what will be used in the future, you know?
  • I had to defer my admission to take classes until Fall 2020 because all the classes I was interested in taking were either closed, not being offered, or at the worst times.
  •  The website for Area Studies is a project that may be beyond just me. I might have to kick it back up the chain of command. I’m just trying to figure out how to do that in a professional way.



Recently Read: “Intersectionality at the Reference Desk: Lived Experiences of Women of Color Librarians” by Rose L. Chou and Annie Pho

My work as a Diversity Resident Librarian has begun to pick up which is really exciting. Part of the increase in workload is the fact that I have committed to some research areas.

The first area that I want to explore involves updating a study done by Jesus Alonso-Regalado. His work “Librarian for Latin American and Caribbean Studies in U.S. Academic and Research Libraries: A Content Analysis of Position Announcements, 1970-2007” provides an image of what your “typical” Latin American Librarian looked like up until 2007 and what kinds of shifts in the job duties, hiring requirements, and other important criteria have happened in the profession. It is now 2019 and I am curious to see if any more formative shifts have taken place since this study was done, especially since the profession has started to welcome some younger librarians and the field of Area Studies continues to shift around.

My second research area is a bit more broad. I want to continue to look at equity, diversity and inclusion as it pertains to librarianship. I want to further explore the role diversity residencies play in solving the professions lack of diversity, and I want to continue to explore my experiences so far as a Puerto Rican Woman in this profession. For idea generation, I have begun to seek out literature that speaks to the lack of diversity in librarianship and came across “Intersectionality at the Reference Desk: Lived Experiences of Women of Color Librarians” by Rose L. Chou and Annie Pho and I was shocked by the experiences these Women of Color (WOC) shared with the authors.

Before I go into my thoughts and feelings, I first wanted to comment on the choice to use a feminist interviewing methodology. As I continue to delve into topics of race, ethnicity, gender, ability, etc. really understanding the nuance of different experiences and situations is important to the discussion of these topics. I also appreciated the thoughtfulness in relying heavily on direct quotes from the women interviewed to stress the importance and validity of these women’s experiences. No need to always cite a scholarly publication to validate someones lived experience, right?

Now onto my thoughts:

The experiences these women shared were frightening. As a non-white woman, it is horrifying to think that these kinds of situations could be in my future. Its disheartening to think that I might have to work 2x harder than my white peers to be taken seriously , but that being overly ambitious could be detrimental to my career. The pressure and reality of being the token Black WOC or Latina (or other identity) in the institution must be paralyzing. For me, this would be incredibly paralyzing because I am not the “stereotypical latina”. If people in my institution are wanting me to be representative of this massively diverse group of humans (their first mistake), they are going to be disappointed to find out that I don’t know all that much about most latinx subjects (who really can though, there is so much to know) and I am probably closer to them culturally than their idea of what latinx means! This wasn’t something mentioned in the piece, but for me, this would make me feel invalid. Like I am not really latina because I don’t fit the image these people expect from me.

There are also cultural differences which might be viewed as incompetence. One woman mentioned how she feels judged by her colleagues whenever she helped Latina students. She noted the cultural importance of talking and chatting before getting to the meat of a topic, something my Mexican-American Supervisor has stressed the importance of as well. These kinds of cultural practices are important because they build trust with patrons and can make them feel more comfortable when they see a familiar cultural practice! So why is her competence being questioned for “taking too long”? That is ridiculous. In my personal institution, I don’t think this kind of cultural practice is a problem as things seem to be a bit less structured. But I do find the extra time need to be true.

With that said, this is something I find that my experience is reversed. I find myself feeling incompetent because I can’t do that whole social practice of small talk before getting to the main stuff with latinx students and faculty. Culturally, I have been exposed to this practice through my family, but it just never stuck. Maybe its my anxiety? Who knows. But in my position, I work with many latinx faculty and grad students and find this exchange uncomfortable. I struggle to do it. It is especially noticeable when my supervisor is comfortable with this cultural practice and I witness these interactions first-hand. I will say that watching my supervisor has helped a lot. There isn’t a formula to these types of interactions, but every time I can watch her do it, I feel comfortable knowing that I have an idea of what to do when it is my turn to engage.  On the hard days, it is easy to look at my supervisor and feel incompetent. But I try to remember that this is not a sign of incompetence. It is a skill that I am learning and I am not expected to master it on my first try! I thought this was an interesting divergence of experience.

Lastly, I just wanted to mention the fact the self-care was something mentioned as coping mechanisms to negative experiences. I thought this was such an important contribution to the literature. As someone with anxiety and depression, it is important to discuss mental health in the workplace. While the authors focused on self-care and the ways negative experiences can have a negative impact on the mental health of these women, I want to add how mental health can play a role in exacerbating some of the issues we face. It is a fine line between the microaggressions and negative experiences causing anxiety and depression, and how pre-existing anxiety and depression can make it even more difficult to face these negative experiences.

Ultimately, this article allowed me to do some self-reflection in regards to my place in the library as a non-white, cisgender woman who suffers from anxiety and depression. I read the experiences shared and wondered the likelihood that I would experience similar situations to those listed here. I also wondered how the nuances of my identity would change the likelihood of these experiences happening to me (i.e. very light skin, no accent, straight, culturally pretty “american, etc.”) The only thing I do know for sure is that every single WOC and POC in librarianship will have a different experience, or different feelings about similar experiences, and these are all valid.