REFORMA LA Member Spotlight: Dr. Romelia Salinas

Dr. Romelia Salinas

Name: Dr. Romelia Salinas
Title: Associate Dean, Library & Learning Resources, Mt. San Antonio College
MLIS and PhD program: UCLA

Primary service roles:

I recently became the Associate Dean of Library and Learning Resources at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt SAC). In this position I oversee the College Library, tutoring services, the computer learning lab and the Online Learning Support Center which supports the integration of technology into teaching. Prior to coming to Mt. SAC I had been a librarian at California State University, Los Angeles for 18 years. During that time there I served as a reference and instruction librarian for various academic departments and campus centers/programs. I also served as Head of Access services for five years overseeing the Circulation, Reserves, Inter-Library Loan and Stacks. During my last three years I was the Reference Services Coordinator. A highlight of my work there was the establishment of the East Los Angeles Archive dedicated to preserving the social and political history of that community.

How does your work align with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities?

My service to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking communities is reflected in my reference and instruction work, my collection development activities and my campus involvement. Cal State LA and Mt. SAC are campuses with a predominantly Latino student body, so I interact and assist this population on a daily basis. At Cal State LA I served as the Latin American Studies and Chicano/a Studies Librarian. I worked closely with faculty in these disciplines and often was invited to provide library instruction introducing students to library resources useful for researching these academic areas. I would also meet individually with students from any department who were researching Latino communities and direct them to relevant sources to consult. Through this work I was supporting the research of these communities as well as success of our students.

I believe that information institutions, such as libraries, are transformative spaces where students can learn about themselves through alternative perspectives and in turn empower themselves.  In this spirit I have dedicated my work to building collections and information services that reflect the diversity of our student body and our local community.  Poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “When someone with the authority of a teacher describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked into a mirror and saw nothing.” Her words speak to the importance of students seeing themselves in our libraries. It is through establishing collections that document and include the voices of marginalized communities that academic libraries can support the success and well-being of our students. To this end I have worked to ensure that print and digital information about underrepresented communities, like Latinos, is available and accessible in our library. This included establishing the East Los Angeles Archive at Cal State LA as well as my work as a founding member of the Latino Digital Archive Group, a group that seeks to establish a national forum to explore the establishment of a Latino digital archive that would have as its goal the digital preservation of all aspects of U.S. Latino history.

In addition to working with students directly and building relevant collections, I also serve the Latino community through my campus outreach. Over the years I have worked with outreach and retention programs such as the Educational Opportunity Program, the Go East LA initiative, the Dreamer Center, and the Parents Academy which primarily works with Spanish-speaking parents of incoming students.

Gratifying aspects of your work:

The most gratifying aspect of my work is having the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students. Whether it is providing students access to information they needed to complete their MA thesis or teaching them how to email their professors.

Some words of advice to other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students:

I would encourage future librarians to be resourceful and persistent in their work. When encountering obstacles in moving your ideas forward, always look for other avenues. Be creative in your services and don’t limit yourself to the confines of what and how your library has done things in the past. Small actions can lead to big changes.