Centering “Your Voices” with Kara (K. René) Price
“My goal is to connect my background in policy and data science to librarianship. I want to become an information professional who not only advocates for underrepresented communities in GLAM but also advises and helps information institutions truly embody belonging in their policies, programs, services, and spaces.”
Kara (K. René) Price (pronouns: they/she/y’all) MSDCS
SJSU MLIS, Expected Fall ‘24
Kara Price’s educational background and experiences have played a big part in their decision to pursue a career in Library and Information Science.
“I spent most, if not all of my undergraduate years working in the library. I was a student worker for my now-supervisor for three years and then transitioned into a library assistant position while working on my first Masters degree. She and other faculty members at the college saw my potential as an information professional, but it was not until I was working at a tribal financial institution as a social media coordinator and project manager that I realized how much I missed working in higher education– and libraries.”
Prior to pursuing their MLIS degree, Kara’s work focused heavily on data analytics and foreign policy.
“I earned my Bachelor of Art in Political Science at Wichita State University. My thesis was on U.S. nuclear diplomacy with North Korea. I earned my Master of Science in Digital Content Strategy at the University of Kansas, where I began to explore the influence of Big Data in digital foreign policy and diplomacy. It was during my first Masters program that I discovered Indigenous data sovereignty and tribal librarianship. Not only was I interested in learning about them, but I also wanted to learn about the relationship between them; Indigenous data sovereignty is a new concept, so there is little research or information on its impact on tribal libraries.”
As part of her return to working in higher education and libraries, Kara entered the Bridging Knowledge scholarship program through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
“I received a scholarship to attend the iSchool to learn about tribal librarianship and traditional knowledge. It’s a three-year program that provides fifteen Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian students financial assistance and support. We are learning how to combine contemporary digital practices in librarianship with culturally-appropriate practices of handling traditional knowledge in galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM). With graduation a little over a year away, I want to specialize in consulting, outreach, and user experience for underrepresented communities in GLAM.”
Not only that, Kara balances graduate school full-time while also working full-time as a librarian!
“I work at Butler Community College– a rural, medium-size institution that is the second largest community college in Kansas– as an Access and Outreach Librarian. The position is unique in that I get to learn about and gain experience in different areas of librarianship: reference, copy cataloging, collection development and weeding, instruction, marketing, strategic planning and grant writing, outreach and programming, and user experience. I am fortunate in that I work in a supportive environment where my colleagues offer feedback and help me navigate my MLIS journey.”
Your Voices: Learning, Listening and Sharing
“It is a one-year grant funded project overseen by Dr. Michele A.L. Villagran (she/her/ellá) that offers underrepresented students in information science the opportunity to share their stories, support one another, and learn from information professionals like themselves on how to navigate diversity/decolonization, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging in the field. Through student-led community learning spaces, student-centered newsletters, and webinars specific to DEIAB, Your Voices not only recognizes commonalities between intersectional identities to foster community, but it also encourages conversation and feedback on the iSchool and Applied Data Science programs to improve students’ experiences while fulfilling the iSchool and College of Professional and Global Education’s missions of making students from diverse backgrounds feel welcome.”
As the student assistant, Kara has been responsible for creating the foundation of the community learning spaces’ policies and format, designing and distributing the project’s newsletters, and co-organizing webinars.
“One of the things that I have enjoyed while working on Your Voices is the opportunity to get acquainted with SJSU students and information professionals across the country. Building connections during a pivotal moment in my career is incredible, and with it comes an opportunity to show support for my colleagues in the program and beyond.”
Speaking of beyond, Kara and Dr. Villagran have already begun the process of planning for what’s to come after Your Voices.
“I want to see the data collected from Your Voices be used to create the foundation for research on DEIB in online MLIS programs. I am inspired by Your Voices to pursue a project that is student-led and student-centered. Sympathy is what drives Your Voices, but I want to ensure that students, regardless of their identity, feel acknowledged and respected 365 days a year. For students to celebrate each other and their work, whether as students or information professionals, on a large platform would be a dream come true.”
Advice for Students
Having already gone through a master’s program prior to entering the MLIS, Kara has some advice for current and prospective students.
“For current students: Rest is powerful. Remember to take care of yourself and communicate with professors if you are feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or are struggling with mental health or personal emergencies. It is better to receive an Incomplete for a course and take it again than get a low or failing grade that will affect your GPA, financial aid, or student assistantship. Recently, I have picked up journaling, bowling, and gardening to decompress. I am also learning more about local organizations in my community that support underserved communities and how to become more involved.”
“For prospective students: Join Facebook groups like SJSU’s iSchool Students and Alumni to find and join communities that will be supportive during your journey. They can offer recommendations on classes or instructors, feedback on experiences with assignments or projects, and connections to potential internships or job opportunities.”
What Do You Recommend?
Of the classes they have taken so far, Kara recommends INFO281: Indigenous Cultural Institutions and Practices of Librarianship.
“It is a great foundational course for iSchool students who are interested in tribal librarianship and tribal cultural institutions and practices. Although it is a lot of information to comb through in one semester, Dr. Gosart presents it in a format that is easier to understand than if you were to study it independently. I highly recommend taking this course if you plan to work with tribal communities or in museums.”
Kara is also a big fan of self-help books.
“I recommend Nedra Glover Tawwab’s Set Boundaries, Find Peace and its workbook, The Set Boundaries Workbook. As a licensed therapist and relationship expert, she provides wonderful insight and recommendations on how to approach difficult relationships, cope with toxic people, and maintain a healthy work-life balance using the latest cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques.”