SLIS Alum Christy Aguirre, Branch Supervisor at the Southgate Branch of the Sacramento Public Library in California, considers literacy a family affair. “If we reach the family, we’ve truly reached the individual. For those who don’t have family, the library is a second home,” she said. Aguirre’s programming initiatives for family literacy in the Sacramento area have garnered statewide attention. Aguirre was recently named the 2012 Outstanding Librarian in Support of Literacy by the California Library Association (CLA), an annual award that recognizes librarians dedicated to adult literacy.
“I’m completely floored,” Aguirre said of the honor. “I think part of why I was recognized is due to the amount of outreach and partnering my branch does with organizations in our immediate community. Partnership is critical because funding is scarce and building a relationship with our communities insures sustainability.”
Among the partnerships Aguirre has developed, she said the work she’s done with the Veteran’s Rehabilitation Center in Sacramento has been incredibly rewarding. In particular, Aguirre recalled one Vietnam vet who learned how to read through Sacramento Public Library’s Literacy Program. With Southgate Recreation and Park District, Aguirre combined forces to assist in Summer Reading Camps and promote a Summer Reading Program, complete with outdoor movies, a National Night Out block party, library sleepovers, and much more. As a Family Place Library, Southgate Branch also offers grant-funded programming and workshops that teach families pre-literacy skills.
Literacy and working in a public library was always a goal of Aguirre when she graduated from our School’s MLIS program in 2005. During her coursework, Aguirre interned with the San Jose Public Library’s Books for Little Hands and the Partners in Reading literacy programs. “Internships are so important during graduate school,” she said. “Do two internships if you can! Understanding the library environment is crucial in determining whether or not public librarianship is a good fit for an individual. Students needs concrete examples to shine in job interviews.”
Today she serves as the internship supervisor for SJSU SLIS interns at her branch, where she aims to pave the way to student success. “I take a lot of time to train SLIS interns,” she said. “My whole goal is to make them marketable potential employees.”
She also recommends that students join the American Library Association and a state library association. “Pay the student fees while you can,” she advised. “It’s worth it for the professional contacts you’ll gain, which are harder to establish these days. The associations keep you up to date with what’s going on, and you never know what type of job you’ll end up with."