"As a leader, there is no greater opportunity than to serve others, and when you add a career in librarianship to that vision, you will never work another day in your life. Librarianship is a calling."
Meet Cindy Hohl, director of Branch Operations at the Kansas City Public Library. She is currently a student at Wayne State’s School of Information Sciences and is the immediate past president of the American Indian Library Association (AILA), and a member of the steering committee for the Joint Council for Librarians of Color (JCLC).
Hohl is an American Library Association Spectrum Scholarship recipient and was awarded the 2021 Virginia Mathews Scholarship from the AILA. She is passionate about librarianship and advocates for participation in professional organizations because they can create communities that provide vital learning experiences for those in the LIS field.
Q: What motivates you as a librarian?
A: I walk in both worlds, so I am motivated by the need to represent Indigenous Librarianship in a fast-paced society that tends to overlook that we are still here. While there is not a desire to align with the mainstream, we can still be recognized as the original inhabitants and keepers of this beautiful land that we all call home. Acknowledgement that there is beauty in our sustainable systems of Indigenous Knowledge and ways of knowing will always go far and I pray for a day when every Indigenous child will hear their stories in every library and see faces that they resemble on the covers of books. Mitakuye Oyasin in Dakota means We Are All Related, and it is my goal as a librarian to be a connector, a helper, and help people remember that we all belong to each other. As a leader, there is no greater opportunity than to serve others, and when you add a career in librarianship to that vision, you will never work another day in your life. Librarianship is a calling.
Q: The American Library Association's Office for Diversity awards Spectrum Scholarships to exceptional students pursuing graduate degrees in library and information studies. You, along with 60 students from across the country, received the award in 2016. What was your experience as a Spectrum Scholar?
A: Attending the Spectrum Institute was a career-shifting moment for me because I felt like I had found my family. The gathering created a place of belonging and it was a truly beautiful experience. I will cherish those memories for the rest of my career. The friendships that I made and the connections that we share is a bond that brings us courage and hope as we unite and proudly represent as the BIPOC faces of librarianship. My only wish is that there will be enough scholarships someday to support as many applicants as they receive, because as the motto goes: "The Future is Overdue."
The LIS field is transforming to meet the growing need of increased and equitable racial representation within the profession. With the 25th year of the Spectrum Scholarship program coming up in 2023, now is the time to gain momentum as we embrace the beauty of our reality that the demographics have shifted. It is time to actively recruit and welcome our BIPOC colleagues into the field. There has never been a better time to join the profession and as our fellow Warrior, Sophia Brewer, was selected to participate in that first Spectrum cohort in 1998, Wayne State University continues to attract and retain a diverse student body. Spectrum is for life.
Q: Tell us about your work as president of the AILA. Do you have any favorite experiences or projects with the organization?
A: In my role as president, I serve the membership group by providing executive leadership, collaboration, communications and reporting, management of meetings and special projects, building relationships, creating advocacy for the association, and engagement with member relations. I also represent the body of AILA with other organizations and National Librarian of Color groups throughout the LIS field.
My favorite participation in AILA is hosting our monthly membership meetings online where we can check in and hear about everyone’s work. I also enjoy sending out a monthly recap newsletter to keep members informed of past and future opportunities.
Q: You are also involved with the JCLC, can you touch on what you enjoy most about being in that group?
A: The Joint Council of Librarians of Color is an AMAZING organization and I encourage every librarian to support the work of JCLC. Recently recognized with the ALA Equality Award, the team at JCLC are hard-working volunteers who commit to sharing education, networking, and professional development for members and allies alike. Much like our beloved Spectrum community, belonging to JCLC is a labor of love and it is worth every ounce of work that you put into it! We have a dedicated Executive Board and strong leadership all around. If you want to get involved, there are always volunteer opportunities available. Level up your skill set and find your fit at JCLC.
Q: What advice would you give to a student who wants to become more involved in professional organizations like AILA or JCLC?
A: Join these groups using the student rate, read the newsletters, show up at events, attend meetings, follow them on social media, and send out questions to connect with other librarians also serving within the organization. There's always room to grow and serve within these groups, and I encourage colleagues to network online, in person, and through their state associations as well. This field is not as large as it may seem. New member groups are also a great place to get your start in professional networking. You never know who you will meet and what collaborations will be offered in the future, so connect with members of AILA, APALA, BCALA, CALA, and REFORMA to see where your next career move could lead!
Pidamaya ye, Thank you.