Alumna Milly Lugo Develops Information Literacy Classes for Immigrant Communities

As Adult Services Librarian at the Santa Ana Public Library, SLIS alumna Milly Lugo develops computer and information literacy classes for non-English speakers. The classes have been so successful that Lugo has been asked to share her strategies at state and international library events. She also received the 2011 Woman of the Year Award in Education from the National Hispanic Business Women Association.

“Everything is done on computers nowadays, but many of our immigrant communities have educational backgrounds that are 6th-grade level or less,” said Lugo, who graduated from SJSU SLIS in 2009 and speaks Spanish as her first language. She explained that tasks like finding the enter key or sending an email can be a challenge for people who aren’t familiar with technology, especially if they don’t speak English.

Lugo started working part-time at the Santa Ana Public Library in California while she was still a student at SLIS. Her passion and bilingual ability helped her stand out, and she was offered a full-time job in Adult Services in 2007.

One of Lugo’s first tasks was to develop a basic computer literacy class for non-English speakers, which is now so popular it has more than 180 people on the waiting list. Lugo also developed grant-funded programs for keyboarding and “Words for Work,” a program that utilizes software she customized for the library’s needs.

To share their success strategies, Lugo and her colleague Patty Lopez conducted a webinar, “Best Practices for Successful Computer Literacy Workshops for Adult Spanish Speakers,” for the California Library Association’s Spring Fling event in May 2010.

As she worked to develop the computer literacy classes, Lugo noticed that many adults in her community were intimidated by the library because they were not familiar with its services. Though children and teenagers in immigrant families learned about the library through story-times and school projects, Lugo realized the adults were missing out on everything the library has to offer.

Lugo contacted local ESL teachers and asked to visit their classrooms to talk about the library. She now conducts frequent workshops, where she helps ESL students apply for library cards. “The adults get so enthused that many times they apply for library cards for their whole family,” Lugo said. Lugo estimates that 7,000 Hispanics have registered for new library cards at Santa Ana in the last three years.

The workshops have made such an impact that Lugo was asked to present an information literacy session at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) conference in Puerto Rico during August 2011.

In addition to providing instruction in computer and information literacy at Santa Ana, Lugo is also responsible for Spanish-language collection development at the main library and its branch. She travels to Spain and Mexico twice a year to build the collection. Lugo was promoted to Senior Librarian in July 2011.

A self-described “late bloomer,” Lugo came to librarianship from a wide background in hotel and office management. She earned her BA from Cornell University and worked for twenty years in various industries, finding a new job each time her husband was transferred. When her family finally settled in Orange County, California, Lugo was determined to follow her true passion and become a librarian. “I love to learn new things and promote education,” she said.

Lugo enrolled in our School’s MLIS program in 2006 and worked hard to learn the skills she needed to study in an online learning environment. Courses with Dr. Penelope Grant (LIBR 232: Issues in Public Libraries), Dr. Joni Richards Bodart (LIBR 282: Young Adult Resources), and retired professor Dr. Evelyn Daniel (LIBR 204: Information Organizations and Management) had a special impact.

“When you make these big life decisions, there are moments of doubt, where you wonder if it’s the right choice,” Lugo said. “These teachers, because of their professionalism and their knowledge, really reinforced my decision and gave me confidence.”

Lugo was presented with the 2011 Woman of the Year Award in Education by the National Hispanic Business Women Association on May 19, 2011 in Santa Ana.