ALA Spectrum Institute Presentations: a post from Professional Development Grant awardee Rachel Keiko Stark

Rachel is one of the recipients of the Spring 2015 NCNMLG Professional Development Grant. Rachel will use her grant award to partially fund attendance at ALA, and she will be participating in a number of presentations that are part of the Spectrum Institute. 

The Spectrum Scholarship program was created to assist ethnically and racially diverse students in graduate library programs with an interest in leadership positions within the library profession, with the goal of helping to best position libraries and other institutions who serve culturally diverse communities. The Spectrum Institute is three days long, held in conjunction with ALA Annual and highlights leadership through a variety of programs.

During my time at the Spectrum Institute, I really enjoyed the panel sessions as it allowed me to learn more about the profession I wanted to enter from people who were currently librarians and provided an opportunity to speak with the panelists and ask questions in a more comfortable environment. The panels are led by people who have received Spectrum Scholarships in the past and cover a range of topics designed to help students prepare for their careers outside of school.

As a new librarian, I reflected on what I wish I had known before I left school and designed a panel based on my experiences interviewing at a number of libraries. As I job hunted, I learned that each type of library had very different application and interviewing expectations and that if I known what they expected before when I applied I could have done a better job. I hope that this panel will allow the current Spectrum Scholars to gain knowledge that will help them succeed when they apply for jobs.  I am excited to discuss my experiences interviewing for academic and hospital positions, as this not only helps students prepare for these types of positions, but also highlights the diversity of our profession. I am also looking forward to hearing from the professionals I’ve recruited for my panel.  The head of youth services at the Sacramento Public Library will discuss how a manager views the application and hiring process, a senior librarian for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will discuss the application and hiring process for California Prison Libraries, and a fellow scholarship recipient who will discuss the application and hiring process at the San Francisco Public Library. I am incredibly grateful to all of my panel participants and I hope that they have as much fun as I will during the panel.

I was also invited to serve on another panel for the Spectrum Institute. This panel will be discussing mentoring. I was incredibly fortunate to find an informal mentor who helped me tremendously during my schooling and continues to support me as a new professional. I have also started mentoring in an informal manner and will discuss this experience. While I very much enjoy my formal mentorships, I will highlight the benefits of informal mentoring, including getting to pick your mentor/mentee and the ease of my informal relationships compared to my formal mentoring relationships. All members of this panel are Spectrum Scholars from previous years and we can speak to some of the issues that are unique to librarians of color as well as the broader issues of mentoring in our profession.

I hope that participating in these panels will allow the current Spectrum Scholarships to be better prepared for when they enter the profession and I am also hoping to interest them in Health Sciences Librarianship. Many library students I’ve met are unaware of hospital librarians, and many of the students I’ve spoken to assume that they have to have a medical background before they can apply for those positions. I look forward to not only discussing the application and interview process for the health sciences, but also encouraging people with a board range of background to consider Health Sciences Librarianship. At the Spectrum Institute I attended, no Health Sciences Librarians presented and no Health Sciences organization tabled for us. I hope that my presentations will encourage people who might not have been interested to at least consider Health Sciences as a career option and I look forward to helping provide future Librarians with tools that will help them succeed in their chosen profession.