Community College Librarian Collaborations: From California to Austin
By Eva Rios-Alvarado, Mt. San Antonio College
Usually, as librarians we connect with colleagues from other states through initiatives, workgroups, conferences, and calls for collaboration through listservs. This summer, I had the greatest pleasure to collaborate with colleagues from the Austin (Texas) Community College Library Services (ACCLS) in a round-about-way.
Not too long ago me and colleague, Amanda M. Leftwich, co-editors of the forthcoming publication with Litwin Books and Library Juice Press, “Building Our Own: Critiques, Narratives, and Practices by Community College Library Workers of Color, received an email invitation from ACCLS. What a feeling of satisfaction to see how our work, outside of the institution, lead us to unforeseen possibilities to share expertise. Sadly, Amanda was busy and not able to join. However, I was able to collaborate, and I am genuinely happy I did! This short article briefly shares some of our work from California to Austin and vice versa this summer.
As mentioned, our collaboration started with a kind email from Lynda, Alexander, and Jeremy. They were looking for experts to help with their Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) efforts at ACCLS, to lead a training and presentation to help jumpstart their work with culturally relevant teaching in their libraries, as multi-campus district.
In Austin and in California (and, I am sure in other places), many community college librarians are re-thinking their teaching, and our places of teaching in libraries and at the community college, in ways that go beyond equity. Many of us want liberational teaching, to redo education, even in libraries, that starts with us as educators doing better and demanding more of our institutions and administrators.
My work included the inspiring opportunity to lead a professional development training and keynote presentation with ACCLS, at their pre-fall all-libraries training, for their 2023 EDI Symposium, which took place on zoom. For this three-part training and keynote presentation, I was able to weave in parts of my forthcoming chapter, “Learning from the Brown Body: Xicana Feminism in the Community College Library,” where we all had the opportunity to deeply reflect on what learning and teaching means for those of us in community college libraries, with our unique and similar educational and community settings.
What was exciting, for me, was developing a tailored presentation and training that would fit the instructional community, at ACCLS, and meet with parts of my chapter and larger ideas in educational theory and in my librarian work. Their focus was to have time to largely build-in culturally relevant teaching, mostly from the work of Gloria Ladson-Billings, into their instruction. I was also able to help us consider other educational theory practitioners which have helped frame, ground much for my teaching and community building as librarian educator in Tovaangar (Los Angeles), that I write about more in my chapter.
These dedicated community college librarians are leading some of the same work we lead in the California community colleges, was my major takeaway. Our California to Austin connection is, for me, another example of how we as community college librarians work together to strengthen our culturally relevant teaching experiences for students and our respective communities by way of collaboration.