Student Cristina Mitra Named 2009 YALSA Spectrum Scholar

SLIS student Cristina Mitra was named the 2009-2010 Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Spectrum Scholar, a national honor received by one student a year who is interested in pursuing a career serving youth ages 12-18 in a library setting.

Mitra’s desire to work with young adults stems from her own teenage years in San Francisco, when she was involved with youth development leadership programs. One of her teachers in the program became a “lifelong mentor,” who Mitra keeps in touch with today.

“My passion is working directly with teens, and I can draw from the positive reinforcements that I received as a teenager,” said Mitra, who expects to graduate with her MLIS degree in Spring 2011.

Librarianship also leverages Mitra’s previous experience working in database management and outreach for various non-profit organizations. She’s worked for a range of groups in the San Francisco Bay Area, including providing employment information and workshops for Latino immigrant families, overseeing membership services for the World Affairs Council, and helping galvanize youth-led educational change for a social networking site, YouthNoise.

“Working with databases is how I started to make my way toward librarianship. I found that I really like the geeky side of database management, but I also really love working with people,” said Mitra, who studied Spanish and Latin American studies at Smith College.

Since starting the MLIS program, Mitra worked part-time as a library assistant at Phillip & Sala Burton High School in San Francisco. Last fall, she landed a job as Disability Program Navigator Librarian for San Francisco, aiding One Stop Career Centers in San Francisco in better serving people with disabilities. Mitra’s job responsibilities include coordinating training programs and maintaining an online resource library.

Mitra, a native Californian of Mexican and Filipino heritage, currently hopes to work in a public library setting focusing on Spanish-speaking teens. “I see the ability to speak Spanish as a gift,” she said. “I hope to work in a capacity where I can use it to make libraries as accessible and welcoming as possible to all patrons.”