REFORMA Los Angeles is pleased to congratulate Anna U’Ren as the winner of the 2016 ALA Student Travel Grant. This $250 student travel grant award was created to help offset the cost of attending the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, FL and REFORMA's Denim and Diamonds yearly gala event scheduled to take place at ALA Annual. Congratulations Anna U’Ren!
Learn a little more about Anna.
Hello, my name is Anna U’Ren and I am a student in my second year of SJSU’s MLIS program. I live in San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, CA. I work as a pharmacy technician and my husband Sam works for Mission San Juan Capistrano, and we have two kids: Emmett, age 5, and Eleanor, age 2. I live in a wonderful community that is very much a small town. I have built many close relationships with my pharmacy customers (some of which are my neighbors) and take pride in helping them navigate our often frustrating healthcare system, but I feel that a career as a librarian would be more personally fulfilling and enable me to better support my family. I have been unable to attend any library conferences thus far because they have been too cost prohibitive.
The professors in the MLIS program at San Jose State do a great job at providing a rich online learning experience, although I must admit that I sometimes feel isolated as a student working alone at home.
At this moment, I am working on a group blog project for my Materials for Children class on “white privilege”. When you fully begin to explore this topic (speaking as a white person) you start to realize how pervasive it is in our society, and how glaring the lack of diversity is, especially in children’s literature. As a mother, I’ve never had to search and search for one single book that has characters that look like my children, with stories that they can relate to. Children need books that consist of characters and stories that represent their own experience. I think librarians have a critical role to play in this area. I recently read an article for one of my classes written by Roberto Haro titled “Literature in Defining a Culture: The Chicano/Latino Experience”. Haro made me think of librarians in a totally different way, and this comment really stuck with me:
“There were times in American history when librarians were the only professionals aware of Hispanics and Raza. These professionals dedicated themselves to capture the ideas, images and symbols Chicano/Latino writers used to describe and define who they were, and their unique experience in America. Librarians are largely unrecognized heroes, responsible for preserving the many threads in society that weave into our national tapestry.”
It was exciting for me to think that librarians could have active and dynamic roles within their communities. When I started library school, I had an outdated idea about libraries, thinking that, because I like books, librarianship would be a great profession to enter. Now I know that libraries today are so much more than warehouses for books, and that each library is unique because each community it serves is unique. I would love to attend the ALA conference in Orlando this year, if only just to talk to anyone and everyone, and ask lots and lots of questions. I want to meet people and see the exhibits and presentations, and attend the SJSU iSchool reception so that I can connect with people from my school in person and not just through a computer screen. And I want to learn more about REFORMA, because meeting the objectives of this organization would positively impact many in my own community. That, and my professor Dr. Bernier also says that the REFORMA Gala is always a good time.