On Wheels at Art Walk

Our little Library Store On Wheels had a big night out last night! We parked at the corner of 3rd and Spring St. for the Downtown L.A. Art Walk, surrounded by other mobile retail trucks and food trucks of all kinds.

We had a steady stream of visitors on board our truck all night. Everyone was happy to be out enjoying the early spring time weather!

The nice folks at Truck-It Fest gave us a fantastic parking space right in the middle of the action! We kept the windows down and let the enticing aromas from the nearby food trucks waft through our truck all night long.

People were stoked when they learned their purchases supported their beloved libraries!

Can’t wait for next month! Hopefully we’ll see you again at Art Walk on April 11!

 

The Latest in Library Fashion

A new shipment of library inspired accessories has arrived from The Written Nerd! Emma, a former librarian, hates to see the library catalog cards go to waste in the digital age so she makes jewelry out of them! She includes the unique card along with each piece, so you know what card your necklace or earrings (bookmarks too!) were clipped from. Stop by the store to see these pieces in person, each one is unique!

Meet the Innovation Leadership Program Residents: Part Two

Recently, we spotlighted Amy Bradley, one of the two inaugural ILP residents. This week, we talked to Yesenia Villar-Villalobos, who is from East Los Angeles and received her M.L.I.S. from UCLA. She became a librarian to help raise awareness—especially within the Latino population—that the library is one of our greatest learning resources. The Innovation Leadership Program (ILP), is a collaboration between the Library Foundation and Los Angeles Public Library and the first of its kind to offer librarian residencies in a major public library. The program partners midcareer librarians with recently graduated librarians to address the challenges facing the 21st century public library, and brings together new professionals with their knowledge of cutting edge information science and technology and pairs them with seasoned librarians with their knowledge of Los Angeles communities and the library profession to create an exciting synergy.

ILP Residents Amy Bradley and Yesenia Villar-Villalobos

Tell us a bit about yourself—where you are from, what are some of your interests, and how did you first decide that you wanted to be a librarian?

I’m from East Los Angeles and currently live in City Terrace, which is a small neighborhood in the unincorporated area of East L.A. I graduated from Cal State L.A. with a B.A. in Liberal Studies and Women’s Studies. My “interests” are trying to manage my work schedule while raising my daughters, Luna who is 5 and Lluvia who is 1 1/2. Thankfully I have a supportive husband who helps a great deal. Aside from that I’m the treasure and co-founding member of the City Terrace Friends of the Library group and I’m in charge of fundraising through Amazon book sales.  I’m also a foodie in training and always looking for unique, fresh, and healthy dining in L.A. I became a librarian to help the people from my community access information.

What has been the experience of your residency thus far?

We are a 6-month pilot project. Our experience will help shape the 2-year residency that follows us.  We are bringing awareness of the changing nature of libraries and pushing limits to hopefully open doors for other librarians to take risks. Our daily schedules vary greatly. We are either observing meeting, departments at Central, following our mentors as they perform outreach, try frantically to complete the assignments given to us, all while trying to design and implement an “innovative” program of our choice. To say the least, it has been extremely busy. It has also been an extremely wonderful learning exercise. I’ve learned and met so many great people who are helping shape my performance as a librarian. I cannot thank LAPL and the Library Foundation enough for affording me this opportunity.

What are you learning about modern urban libraries as you work in the different branches across Los Angeles?

I began my residency at West Valley, spending 4-weeks there and another 4-weeks at Central. I’m currently at Echo Park, but before this I subbed and spent time at R.L. Stevenson, Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park, El Serreno, Arroyo Seco, and Benjamin Franklin. Each of these branches function differently based on their patrons needs.  R.L. Stevenson for example is a “sleepy” branch, the reference desk is relatively calm. It’s very much a community library. While Echo Park is a larger branch as is much busier with a faster pace.

What are you learning from the librarians you are working with?

What am I not learning! Library school taught me theory based practice.  From the librarians I’m learning more practical knowledge.

What surprises have you encountered on-site?

When I subbed at R.L. Stevenson the kids in the community often viewed the librarians similar to teachers. They called me ‘Miss’ and asked me for homework help the same way they would ask their teacher. A moment I remember fondly is when a boy I had been helping the previous days brought his friend for me to help. While out in the stacks his friend asked me ‘Is it true you’re his librarian?’ Which I understood as ‘Is it true you’re a librarian.’ I responded and he clarified, ‘No, HIS librarian, he said you’re his librarian. He said he comes to get help only from you.’ It was a great feeling to know that I was helpful and that he appreciated my dedication.

What is your vision of the library in 50 years?

I can’t even imagine what the library will be like in 50 years. Technology is changing so rapidly that there’s no telling what the possibilities are. I’m sure the libraries of the 1960s never imagined a digital library.

Meet the Innovation Leadership Program Residents: Part One

Over the last year, the Library Foundation and Los Angeles Public Library have collaborated to launch the first of its kind librarian residencies in a major public library. The Innovation Leadership Program (ILP), which is in the planning phase of what we hope to be an ongoing program, partners midcareer librarians with recently graduated librarians to address the challenges facing the 21st century public library. The ILP brings together new professionals with their knowledge of cutting edge information science and technology and pairs them with seasoned librarians with their knowledge of Los Angeles communities and the library profession to create an exciting synergy.

Immersed in their residency, we caught up with the two inaugural ILP residents, Amy Bradley and Yesenia Villar-Villalobos. We will be featuring interviews from each of the fellows in the next two weeks. First up, we talked to Amy Bradley.

Imani Harris, Melissa Briggs, and Amy Bradley at Young Literati event. Photo by Marlene Picard.

Tell us a bit about yourself—where are you from, what are some of your interests, and how did you first decide that you wanted to be a librarian?

I grew up in a gateway city just outside of Los Angeles. Like many families in our community, mine struggled with poverty. But I was fortunate enough to live around the block from a public library, and to be raised by two women who loved to read. The first thing my grandmother did in the morning was read her Bible, and my mother was always buried in the tomes of Anne McCaffrey or Jane Auel. I loved fiction early on, and as I grew older I continued to read in order to understand myself and those around me. Literature allowed me to escape a sometimes difficult upbringing, and fueled my imagination and hope for the future.

I found my first job as a page at our neighborhood library, Norwalk Regional. I studied literature and creative writing at BIOLA and Oxford University, but it wasn’t until after I finished college—having worked for years in public libraries—that I decided I wanted to be a librarian. A wonderful branch manager in the County of Los Angeles Public Library named Jennifer McCarty urged me to become a librarian because I was “smart as a whip, and interested in everything.” Her words stuck with me, and I’m so glad they did.

As the first person in my mother’s family to attend college and earn an advanced degree, I credit a love of reading—nurtured by our public library’s collection—to overcoming the circumstances I grew up in. As a public librarian, I’m thrilled to use my imagination and love of literature to improve the lives of people in our communities.

What has been the experience of your residency thus far?

I’m always being confused with an intern, so I’m excited to have a chance to talk about this! The concept of a residency is borrowed from the medical field, where it spread to medical and academic libraries at large. It’s essentially a model of accelerated development for new librarians, meant to close the gap between what’s learned in LIS schools and what actually happens in libraries. As a resident, I gain the ability to acquire skills and firsthand knowledge in a wide variety of library work, sharpen my future career goals, and build a “big picture” view of LAPL and the profession as a whole. The fellows, seasoned librarians who serve as mentors, are able to build their leadership experience as they move on as the next generation of library leaders. For LAPL as an organization, this means an influx of young librarians with new ideas who can motivate other librarians to rethink the way we offer services. The Innovative Leadership Program is the first large-scale public library residency in the nation, and we hope to set a model for public libraries across the country.

As a final result, of course, this means communities with libraries that are even better at meeting their needs. I spent the first month of my residency downtown at the gorgeous Central Library, meeting other librarians and gaining a sense of LAPL as a whole. I spent the second month in the Valley developing my program, helping out with storytimes, and working at the reference desk. I’m spending the next few months in Highland Park, coordinating a poetry workshop for teens that incorporates social media.

What are you learning about modern urban libraries as you work in the different branches across Los Angeles?

I’ve spent time at Central Library and in the branches, and it’s been exciting to learn about each branch’s distinctive culture and relationship with its community. For instance, West Valley Regional has a considerable Farsi language collection and a monthly Persian book club. I spoke to one patron who expressed how grateful he was that the library provided books in his native language, and another who was eager to discuss the Persian novel she’d just finished. I also learned first-hand what a resource the library is to students—each afternoon, the branch is abuzz with students who are working with tutors, finding a book for a homework project, or playing games on the children’s computers. I’m learning how truly diverse the city is, and experiencing what a natural partnership exists between public libraries and public schools.

ILP Residents Amy Bradley and Yesenia Villar-Villalobos

What are you learning from the librarians you are working with?

I’ve learned that librarians are truly the library’s greatest resource. The library isn’t simply a collection; it’s a plethora of intelligent people who care about their community and are doing all they can to help it succeed. One’s opportunities increase with knowledge and education, and societies improve as a whole when people are healthy, literate and educated. Public libraries open up possibilities for every member of society, and this wouldn’t be possible without the librarians who make it happen.

What surprises have you encountered? What are you learning through being on-site that you never imagined as a student?

I get really excited about helping people find what they need. One afternoon, as I was showing an elementary school girl how to use the catalog, one of our regulars asked me to quiet down! He reminded me that it was, after all, a library. It was interesting to be shushed by a patron—it caused me to reflect on how the library is changing as an institution, and how public perception of the library is sometimes still that of a hushed, monastic building filled with books. I personally love that nostalgic vision, but think LAPL can be much more dynamic in its communities—less a pantry where ideas are stored, and more a kitchen were ideas are being created.

How has this residency changed your thoughts about the role of the public library?

In grad school I read about public libraries becoming community centers, and that idea resonated with me. In the branches, I’ve been able to see that at work. At the reference desk I’ve helped people find resources to develop their small businesses, worked with Los Angeles Unified School District tutors to locate resources that will help their students succeed, and created Valentine’s crafts with children and teens. Our branches are truly community centers, and building relationships with people in our communities can start anywhere–at the reference desk, in the stacks, and over a pile of cut-out hearts and googley eyes a group of nine-year-olds are gluing together to make Valentine’s Day fish.

What is your vision of the library in 50 years?

Technology is changing how we interact with information. Fifty years ago, the task would have been to unearth information about an obscure topic. Today, the task is to sift through and select the most relevant and accurate information from millions of web hits (a Google search for “pug fan club” nets 417,000 pages). Technology is even altering our episteme—in an age of ubiquitous media, who has the power to define reality? Social media and other web 2.0 sources have created new pathways for truths to emerge from, and are challenging our traditional ways of knowing.

I think that society will become increasingly participatory, and that libraries decades in the future will have embraced content creation. This starts with building a personal connection with people in our communities, something I’m excited about doing each day. In 50 years, I see libraries as community centers where conversations are happening and ideas are shaped that will improve our communities and our society.