by Max Macias
Last fall I had the honor of being asked to review the much anticipated Pathways to Progress: Issues and Advances in Latino Librarianship; edited by John L. Ayala and Salvador Güereña. This book is a collection of essays by Latino Librarian/Advocates on Latino Librarianship. It is part of a series called Latinos and Libraries Series, published by Libraries Unlimited. I do not have time to write about every essay in the book--there are 12 chapters and 17 pieces written by some of the leaders of the Latino Library Movement.
Chapter one is by Dr. Sergio Chaparro and is entitled: Common Denominators in the Development of Latino Library Leadership. This chapter was far too short and underdeveloped. It was surfacy and generally vague without references to the diversity within the “Latino” label. It was supposed to outline and discuss some ideas and methods to create and empower a new group of managers and library directors who can advocate for Latinos and Hispanics in librarianship and in LIS programs. Dr. Chapparo is correct in his observations that more Latinos should be in library management/administration. He is also correct that there must be more research on Latinos in libraries and Latinos in general.
Collection Development: an Overview for the Spanish Speaking by Sara Martinez is the 2nd chapter. This chapter is wonderful and akin to a mini-handbook on Spanish Language Collection Processes. She even has tips on distribution contacts and how to outreach to the Spanish Speaking Community in general. This is a solid chapter and is invaluable to anyone who is collecting or is about to begin to collect, or is even thinking about collecting Spanish Language Materials for their library.
Public Library Services and Latino Children: Getting it right in the 21st Century by Oralia Garza de Cortés is the 3rd chapter in this wonderful book. She begins the chapter with a history of Latino Librarianship in children’s services. Oralia goes then analyzes and criticizes the Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library program. She then talks about first languages in the home and how they relate to literacy. Oralia next describes REFORMA’s place in the struggle to serve Latino Children in Spanish by describing various programs that REFORMA has developed by itself and in partnership with aspect of ALA.
Oralia goes on to describe the explosive growth of the Latino population in the US and then gives us the wonderful gift of “Ten Principles for Providing Comprehensive Library Services to Latino Children and Families.” Every principle she gives is powerful and would/will truly impact services in this vital area. This is one of the stronger chapters in the anthology.
Chapter 4: Academic Libraries: Pathways to Transforming Teaching, Learning and Relationships in Chicano and Latino Studies by Luévano, etal. covers the “...best methods used to integrate information fluency skills into ethnic studies department curricula?” One conclusion is that “Academic Librarians must become more involved in faculty and curriculum development.” Librarians must spend more time creating learning materials for class and the library. This chapter is okay, but is more on the theoretical/academic side.
Chapter 5: Special Libraries and Collections: Invisible as Night, Implacable as Wind” California and Multicultural Archives (CEMA): The First 20 Years by Erica Bennett is an excellent history of this organization. Ms. Bennett surveys the history, demographic developments in the US, the importance of Latino/Hispanic archives in general and specifically CEMA. She goes on to describe the place of CEMA in the 21st century and ends with an excellent chronology of CEMA.
Chapter 6: Special Collections: The Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Libraries by Mariá R. Estorino is a nice description of the collection, it’s importance and future as a major resource for Latino/Hispanic research. Chapter 7 is a beautiful piece by the late and great tatiana de la tierra entitled Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Lesbian, Queer: Being there: Queer Latin@ Representation in the Library discusses the problems, and possible solutions of the lack of representation in libraries of Latino Queer Librarians, and the lack of representation in library collections as a result of the lack of Latino Queer Librarians and allies.
Chapter 8 is Recruiting and Mentoring: Proactive Mentoring: Attracting Hispanic American Students into Information Studies by Alma C. Ortega and Marisol Ramos tries to answer the question of why efforts to recruit Hispanic students into Library Science has so far failed and what might be done about this with solid mentoring and recruitment. This essay was almost the first time I had heard anyone else, besides myself, talk about the importance of recruiting non-Spanish Speaking Hispanic students into LIS. Proactive recruiting and mentoring are major focuses of this chapter. It ends with some illustrative case studies.
Chapter 9 is Leadership in Libraries: Latino Leadership in Libraries by Luis Herrera discusses the history, present and future of Latino leadership in libraries in the US. While this chapter offers some insight into the history of this topic, it offers little in practical and effective leadership implementation for Latinos in libraries. I found this article trite, and full of “7 Habits of Highly Effective Leaders” types of advice. While it offers some insight into how current Latino Library leaders see leadership--it doesn’t address the lack of change and current Latino librarian lack of impact in making libraries more welcoming to Latinos in the US.
Chapter 10 is Digital Resource: Developing Chicano/a Latino/a Digital Resources by Alexander Hauschild addresses the dilemma of making digital resources that relate to Chicano/a or Latino/a history available widely. This chapter mainly focuses on how to get the resources that exist linked up to one another and to outside sources for more availability.
Chapter 11 is a collection of conference presentation the topics range from “A Personal Commitment to the Committee to Recruit Mexican American Librarians” by John L. Ayala to LGBT Archives by Yolanda Retter Vargas. Chapter 12 discusses the role of library associations in relation to Latino librarianship--it ends with an historical overview of REFORMA.
In general, I would say that this book is well worth the price: 52.25. This book has solid information and background for understanding the issues Latino Librarianship in the US face, the history of Latinos in LIS and potential paths to the future for Latinos and those who would serve this population in US libraries. Kudos to John Ayala and Salvador Güereña for creating this practical and informative collection of essays! My main criticism is the lack of radical ideas, or any real strength when it comes to confronting the racism and prejudice we (Latinos/Hispanics/Indigenous) face in US libraries. We need an analysis of the impact of the Colonial Educational System on our knowledge--particularly when it comes to identity, culture and our heritage. While all these essays gave practical steps to help Latinos in the current milieu, we need to have alternative futures that change or operate outside the current system--which is fundamentally, White supremacist, Patriarchal, Heterosexual, Classist and Misogynistic. I look forward to seeing this change in analysis as a result of the practical advice given by the authors in this fine work.