Symposium Recap of “Latinos: Contributing to the Fabric of the Nation”
Hispanic Heritage Month

iStudent Blog
Symposium Recap of “Latinos: Contributing to the Fabric of the Nation”

Published: February 7, 2024 by Eori Tokunaga

As part of the national celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the San José State University iSchool hosted a free online symposium in collaboration with REFORMA titled “Latinos: Contributing to the Fabric of the Nation.” The symposium began with a warm welcome by Dr. Anthony Chow and keynote speaker Loida-Garcia Febo. Following the opening remarks, Dr. Chow introduced the panel of guest speakers, featuring leaders in the LIS field: Supervising Librarian at New York Public Library Elisa Garcia, Academic Engagement Librarian at University of Massachusetts Isabel Espinal, and 2023-2024 REFORMA National President David Lopez

When asked about the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month, REFORMA President David Lopez mentioned that “it is a reminder to have a daily practice or daily honor to people who came before us, people who we work alongside every day, and future generations of what we want our contributions to be on the world.”

Elisa Anais Garcia

“I’m a big believer in the celebration of just cultural heritage, not just my own, but everyone’s cultural heritage…it is a representation of who I am, my family. The work that I do is impacted by that as well.” - Elisa Anais Garcia: Supervising Librarian of the MyLibraryNYC Collections at the New York Public Library

Following the introductory panel discussion, Loida Garcia-Febo began the keynote presentation with a brief history of how Hispanic Heritage Month began, as well as the impact that librarians have had on raising awareness and celebrating Hispanic heritage, most notably through the establishment of REFORMA in 1971. 

Loida Garcia-Febo

“Librarians are a key part of the force that brought us the Chicano Studies to the UCLA Trailblazers, for example, in the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York City. Latino librarians are in NASA, together, with stellar Latino astronauts.” -Loida Garcia-Febo: SJSU iSchool Health and Wellness Ambassador

Continuing the presentation, Garcia-Febo also talked about the various challenges that people of Hispanic/Latinx heritage face and what those challenges pose for libraries today and beyond. This led into the second part of the symposium, where panelists engaged in a discussion with topics ranging from contributions that Latinos have made to society, ways that libraries can better support Spanish speakers in lifelong learning, as well as notable contributions of Latinos librarians to support the society of REFORMA.

Isabel Espinal

“I think every community, you have to look at what are people’s needs or what might they need to learn…do you have a lot of children translating for their parents? Maybe the library can even offer something there.” – Isabel Espinal: Academic Engagement Librarian for African Studies, Afro American Studies, Latin American, Caribbean & Latinx Studies, Native American & Indigenous Studies, Spanish & Portuguese, and Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass)

To watch the full symposium, click here.

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