Los Angeles Public Library Interns Visit LMU Library

This past summer, Student Engagement Librarian Ray Andrade arranged a special visit for 12 college students and three librarian mentors participating in the Los Angeles Public Library’s Diversity and Inclusion Apprenticeship program (LAPL DAIA).

The DAIA is a 10-week paid internship that aims to “expose students who reflect the diversity of our communities to library careers. Through a mentored learning experience, apprentices are introduced to multiple facets of library life, from administration to programming to user services.” Andrade first established this connection between LAPL and LMU at the 2018 People of Color in Library & Information Science Summit, a summer conference organized by LMU librarians with the similar goal of supporting diversity within the library profession.

The 2023 DAIA visit to our campus included a welcome reception, a VIP library tour, and a “Careers in Academic Librarianship” panel discussion. Following the reception, during which he had the opportunity to hear about each student’s capstone projects, Andrade guided the group on a 1-hour tour that featured a diverse cast of LMU library staff representing different departments. Beginning in the basement, Rose Mendoza, head of access services, discussed how her department manages the majority of the library’s physical collections, including the transition of books from the main stacks (above ground) into high-density storage in the basement.

Students listening to speaker in Basement stacks

Before leaving the basement, Andrade pointed out the entrance to “the vault”:  the climate controlled secure area of the basement where the library keeps its most priceless materials.

After ascending to Level 1, Andrade introduced the apprentices to Chamero Mack, circulation services manager, who talked about services and materials available for lending at the Circulation Desk. (Note: you can check out a lot more than just books at the Circulation Desk!)

Students crowding around desk as Chamero speaks

Andrade then introduced the group to Darlene Aguilar and Nicole Murph, both from the Reference and Instruction Department, at the Information Desk. They educated the apprentices about the valuable role that college librarians play in teaching students how to find and critically evaluate information.

Students at information desk

On Level 2, Andrade took the apprentices behind the scenes into staff only areas and introduced them to three members of the Acquisitions and Collection Development Department: Cristina Vasquez, acquisitions ordering assistant; Jason Mitchell, electronic resources assistant; and Ron Lewis, acquisitions librarian. In addition to explaining the overall operations of their department, the library team had fun answering impressive questions about exactly how the library selects and acquires materials, leading into an unexpected discussion about our approval plan, an agreement with vendors for the library to automatically receive and get billed for books related to LMU’s curriculum.

Three library staff members laughing

Level 3 was the location for the VIP tour’s grand finale: a visit into Archives and Special Collections. Jessica Guardado, archives and special collections assistant, curated one of the most memorable pop-up exhibits ever assembled, including William Shakespeare’s first folio (our most prized holding valued at approximately $10 million dollars) and our oldest item, a Chinese battle helmet from the year 3 B.C.E. In addition to discussing these and other items, Guardado also described the magic that takes place in the classroom, where LMU students have the opportunity to examine and interact with rare items during instruction sessions led by librarians and archivists.

Students looking at rare books and materials

After the VIP library tour, apprentices attended a “Careers in Academic Librarianship” panel discussion that included two current LMU librarians and two former LMU librarians:

  • Neel Agrawal, Digital Projects Librarian, LMU
  • Jennifer Masunaga, Instruction and Reference Librarian, Cal-State Los Angeles
  • Penny Neder-Muro, Collections and Metadata Archivist, CalTech
  • José Rincón, Reference and Instruction Librarian for Business, LMU

Aside from panelists answering questions prepared by the moderator (Andrade), panelists answered a consistent stream of excellent questions from apprentices.

Four panelists

This annual collaboration between LAPL and the William H. Hannon Library continues to be a growing success. Feedback from a post event survey included telling comments in relation to the tour, panel discussion, and their overall experience.

For the 1-hour tour, at least two apprentices wished there was more time:

  • “It’s hard to ask for more time to see all the behind the scenes and yet more time would be the recommendation.”
  • “Honestly just more time in general, the tour felt a bit rushed because we kept going over time.”
  • “I think it is fine the way it is. Informative and fun, honestly one of the most engaging events that DAIA has had.”

About the panel, one apprentice said, “A lot of the librarians we’ve spoken to and heard from at LAPL have had paths that I haven’t been able to relate to or that don’t feel like I’d be able to follow, but the people on the panel sounded a lot more like me and that was eye opening.”

Finally, when asked “How did your visit to LMU’s library inform your perception of diversity in academic libraries?” one apprentice summarized the goal of each year’s visit: “I definitely learned that there is a need for more diverse librarians within libraries as a whole. Learning that 90% of librarians are White really emphasizes the need and importance for diversity programs within librarianship, such as our DAIA program.”

(photos courtesy of LAPL’s Madeline Peña)