This week’s module Hyperlinked Communities gave me an opportunity to reflect on how my institution, the Oceanside Public Library, is doing in respects to engaging the community and helping the citizens of our city thrive in our community. Through the readings it is evident that we as information professionals in libraries play an important role and it is our responsibility to reach out to those communities and provide them with the necessary tools to be successful. One of the biggest challenges we have faced is reaching the non-users in our city. We have made great strides in serving the community with essential programming and offering services that are relevant to the needs of our users but there is a large population of our city that we are missing. Although we have made some efforts to reach the non-users, from going out to the community to perform surveys to social media marketing, our efforts have not been fruitful. The city of Oceanside serves a large population of Latinos and I feel that we are failing to serve that community to the best of our ability. I believe one of the biggest challenges we face is creating an inclusive environment for the Latino Community being that we are a government institution. Due to the current political climate and everything that has been happening regarding immigration, there is a definite fear and distrust in government which we must overcome.
Christian Lauersen’s keynote speech at The UX in Libraries conference was a very interesting read as it pointed out how we as human beings are born with certain prejudices, and even though we say we want to create an inclusive environment, we all have hidden biases that affect us internally. One of his main points that really resonated was that in order to create an inclusive community we must not just be good people; we must expose these hidden biases and provide the resources to help people work together regardless of any differences. Public libraries should continue to serve as a community hub connecting people from diverse backgrounds with the tools and resources needed to thrive.
I have been fortunate enough living in San Diego County to take part in a bi-national conference, Seguimos Creando Enlaces, that brings librarians from the U.S. and Mexico together for two days to exchange ideas with the goal of serving the Spanish speaking communities in a more meaningful way. I have attended since its inaugural year in 2012 and I have seen the conference grow in attendance demonstrating the interest of libraries to help support the Latino communities in their cities by providing them with much needed resources. It is workshops like these that can help information professionals create a more inclusive environment and get past some of those biases that Christian Lauersen pointed out in his speech. The exposure to some of the work that librarians are doing south of the border helps us to better understand what we can offer the Latino communities in our cities.