Written By: Michelle Sosa

Edited By: Adina Vega and Marlinda Gallardo

This year, the University of Michigan (UofM) graciously hosted the annual Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Leadership Symposium, which is a program designed to elevate and empower ARL’s Kaleidoscope Program recipients through hands-on engagement and panel discussions with a variety of librarians from the institution. Furthermore, ARL’s Kaleidoscope Program is a two-year commitment for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students pursuing a career in academic librarianship. The program aims to prepare its recipients for a career in academic libraries through leadership development and community-building opportunities; additionally, each recipient is paired with a mentor and receives financial support. As a recipient of the program, I had the opportunity to attend this symposium and meet my cohort in person.

UofM Law Library interior

Michigan has a drastic change in weather when visiting from California, but the experience was worth all the bodily shivers and teeth-chattering. The campus is beautiful, and the library holds a fantastic team of librarians eager to share their experiences and assist students interested in pursuing librarianship.

The symposium consisted of distinctly themed workshops and panels with various librarians on topics ranging from mock interviews to mental wellness. With each story and piece of advice I listened to, I felt more connected to the field and the people in my cohort. Two things that I really took away from the experience were the significance of community and identity, as they were recurring themes throughout the panels and workshops. It was heartwarming to see that the people in my cohort –even from different backgrounds–share similar experiences to mine. They know what it is like to pursue this career as a person of color, and they strive to make changes in the field. Moreover, each speaker from the University of Michigan provided their respective wisdom, insights, and advice; they also encouraged us to reach out anytime. We even had one evening when UofM hosted a reception where my cohort and I could network and/or speak more casually with the staff and faculty in UofM. It was refreshing to hear different perspectives, and I felt more at ease with my career trajectory.

As the symposium came to a close, something that was instilled in all of us was the sense that my cohort and I are now each other’s community. We are here for each other, and we are in this together. Seeing so many different faces (i.e., people of color) in the field gave me an overwhelming sense of comfort and pride. I met Teresa Moreno, a librarian and educator from the University of Illinois who is a Latina like me. Seeing a Latina in such an impressive position in the field brought me so much joy and made me feel that much more proud of my heritage.

Teresa Moreno and I

Overall, the information I received from this leadership symposium is invaluable, and it will surely serve me well in the future as I continue to pursue my career in academic librarianship.

Check out ARL’s Kaleidoscope program for more information on current and past recipients of the program as well as the organization’s mission.

Categories: iSchool SLA


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