"Part of the reason why I picked Wayne was because it had so much practical application...One of the great things about Wayne is the projects I did have informed the way I’ve approached things here. That kind of practical knowledge is something I was really looking for."
Ana Corral is a Wayne State University School of Information Science alumni who graduated in 2019. She is the current resident librarian at Virginia Tech University and is spearheading her second year in her residency. This residency, Ana describes, includes working in rotation between 3 to 4 departments during the first year, and then choosing one department at the end to work in for the remainder of the 3 year-long program. Ana just made her choice to finish up her residency in the research and collaboration department.
Ana’s projects at Virginia Tech have been very fluid and constant. “Residencies tend to be very unique, individualized experiences,” Ana says. Ana’s residency has consisted of beginning many projects within each department that are still ongoing. More specifically, one of Ana’s current projects involves trying to assess the diversity within the collections at Virginia Tech with the Collection Strategist, Nitra Eastby, which she says is important work, but is also a huge undertaking and mentions, “how do you asses collections based on this criteria when the collections have never been assessed like that?” However, Ana quickly strategized ways to create manageable projects all under the same goal and explains, “One of things that we’re doing is focusing on the language aspect, which is the part that I am specifically interested in - creating diversity or representation of different languages within the resources that the university libraries have. I would like to continue my work in this regardless of where I go in different departments.” Ana mentions that they eventually want to analyze each collection, but they are currently focused on ensuring diversity and representation in languages are present in the online resources.
Ana explains that she is passionate about doing this work because many universities that want to recruit international students and aim to have diverse student bodies and faculties gloss over the fact that many of these people may speak English as a second language, so her work is geared to providing resources to these people to make them feel more at home, and to “ease the research that they do, and how they interact with others,” she says.
One of Ana’s projects that she feels is still worth mentioning, was an event for the humanities department that did not turn out as she had hoped. Ana mentions that when you go to conferences and meet people, they all speak about their most successful programs, failing to mention the stepping stones that lead to that success. “I think those [projects] are just as, if not more important than the ones that do go well because they make you really think, ‘what could I have done differently?’ and, ‘What factors affected the success of this program?’”
Ana mentions that the MLIS program at Wayne State prepared her well for her current work because it was self-lead and you could work independently, while there were still great opportunities to connect with other students and faculty that she met in group projects and online events. “Part of the reason why I picked Wayne was because it had so much practical application. I went to Berkley [for undergraduate studies] and it was so theory heavy. It’s not that theory isn’t applicable, but I wanted something that I could tangibly show, ‘look I have experience doing this,’ not ‘I have experience theorizing about how to do this.’ One of the great things about Wayne is the projects I did have informed the way I’ve approached things here. That kind of practical knowledge is something I was really looking for.”
Outside of her residency, Ana hosts the Communidad book club, which involves a partnership between the Blacksburg Public Library, LASO (Latino Association Student Organization), El Centro, which is the Latinx community and cultural center on campus, and Virginia Tech Libraries. Communidad is partially funded by each of these organizations and allows participants to read the book in either English or Spanish. However, their monthly meetings are hosted with a Spanish only discussion led my Ana and it now takes place via zoom due to the Covid-19 in-person restrictions. Ana hopes that this book club can create a frame work for other academic libraries to reach out and get involved with the public libraries and non-profit organizations in their areas. She also welcomes anyone who is interested to join as the book club is now accessible to anyone with internet access.
Ana’s tip to incoming students is that they should invest in a good method of organization that works for them. Ana’s favorite way to coordinate her agenda is an old-fashioned physical planner paired with fountain pens. Ana also mentions that saving your syllabi and recommended readings throughout the program can be useful to any research you might do related to the field in the future.