Name, title, and institution
Yago Cura, Adult Services Librarian, Vernon branch (#04)
Primary service roles.
I help organize literacy, health, and financial programming for the members of the Vernon-Central community; I help to manage the social network accounts associated with our branch, and I ensure that there are enough resources in Spanish for our patrons, 85% of whom speak Spanish as their first language.
Aligning library service to Latinos and our Spanish-speaking communities.
I have worked in several communities that were this Spanish-language dominant, but I have never worked in a community where I got to ensure there were enough Spanish language materials. I feel very fortunate to be able to do this, and feel doubly fortunate that REFORMA is a big part of that work (in terms of help from colleagues and peers, etc.). The Vernon branch collaborates with Catholic Charities to provide the space for Citizenship Classes in our community room every Wednesday; that's the same day that I teach a Computer Comfort class, which most of the time ends up being given in Spanish (I am bilingual) because of the preferences of the students that end up coming.
Most gratifying and enjoyable aspects of your library role.
In March of 2016, Carla Osorio, one of the members of Casa Solidaria del Sur facilitated a presentation: Mujeres Que Publican!, to celebrate their recent publication, Los Hilos Que Tejen, a book that celebrates women that have immigrated to the U.S. from Latin America. This program not only educated and empowered women in the Central-Vernon neighborhood, it also showed them how to follow suit and become "tellers" of their own narratives.
We have a Community Yoga Class every Monday from 6-7:30 that I really enjoy because our instructor facilitates the class in English and Spanish, simultaneously. Vernon-Central used to be a predominantly African-American neighborhood, and now it is predominantly Central American, so finding an instructor that could teach the class in English and Spanish was very important to us. The instructor, Leo Miramontes, has been very generous to us, and was recommended by Casa Solidaria del Sur, a community space and performance center on Central Ave. and 41st
Words of advice for other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students.
Come out from behind your computers, come out of your shells, get your hands dirty with projects that require zero down, ask patrons for help to entice them into programming, fulfill your jedi destiny of being a community protector and healer, an information shaman, someone those in need of help will come blocks to see, listen more than talk, and if you are going into public libraries, remember, the affluent libraries have high circ rates and are generally safer (not always), but the libraries in under-serviced areas are always going to need you more and provide you with more chances for innovation because there is less scrutiny and numbers/figures thrown at you for justification. The public libraries in under-serviced areas are the laboratories young librarians are seeking if only they can overcome snags in budgeting, logistics, and administrative enthusiasm.
Personal interest that informs your service.
From 1999 to 2002, I went to graduate school for creative writing, where I attended the program for Poets & Writers at UMASS-Amherst. I was afforded the opportunity to attend school there through a diversity fellowship and was lucky enough to study with Martin Espada, Tomas Salamun, and Peter Gizzi; I also got the chance to geek out on the trove of Latin American literature housed in the DuBois Library, a 24-story library tower in the middle of western Massachusetts farmland. After library school, ten years later, I learned some html and decided to publish an online journal called, Hinchas de Poesia (http://www.hinchasdepoesia.com/). We are currently working on issue #17 and have published a slew of people way above our paygrade, poets like Luis Rodriguez, Campbell McGrath, and Norman Dubie, We don't sell advertising and the only thing we care about is publishing excellent writing from the Américas, norte y sur. One of the students I attended the Poets & Writers program with was James Foley; we struck up a fifteen year friendship that was cut short when Foley was murdered by ISIS in August of 2014. In March of 2015, I successfully funded a kickstarter to publish an anthology of ghazals for him, and in February of 2016 we began distribution of our first print publication, Ghazals for Foley ( ISBN: 978-0-9845398-7-1): 5.3 ozs and 76 pages, to boot! I have been working diligently to place them in libraries and bookstores, and sell them online, https://squareup.com/store/hinchas-press. All proceeds that I garner from sales of the book are going to be donated back to the James W. Foley Legacy Fund.