Making Vital Connections: Understanding and Serving the Hispanic/Latinx Community
Hispanic Heritage Month Free Symposium


In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the San José State University School of Information held a symposium as part of its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiative.

This symposium was composed of four keynote speakers, all of whom have made significant achievements in the library and information sciences field, including Dr. José Aguiñaga, instructor at SJSU School of Information; Martín Gómez, president/CEO at MJ Gómez Associates; Michele Villagran, assistant professor at SJSU School of Information and president/CEO of CulturalCo, LLC.; Kristen Rebmann, professor at SJSU School of Information; and Rosa Rodriquez, president of REFORMA SJSU.

The keynote speakers had an in-depth discussion on the Hispanic community’s struggle with finding identity and inclusivity, including the Spanish/English language barrier and lack of appreciation for the Indigenous population. An infographic was presented that gave ideas on how to address these issues, including hiring and retaining bilingual staff, creating programs that reflect the community’s culture, and updating services and policies for creating a library card.

Suggestions for how libraries can better connect with their Hispanic communities were made during the “Best Practices in Hispanic/Latinx Library Services” panel discussion. Members of the panel recommended several program ideas, such as incorporating bookmobiles to Spanish-speaking communities, offering bilingual handouts, English language learning, incorporating Hispanic teen programming and committees, adding more Spanish items to collections, and Spanish story time programs.

Hispanic communities are an important part of the grand tapestry that makes up the rich American culture. This symposium is meant to shed light on their challenges and what libraries can do specifically to alleviate these challenges.

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