Interview with the Instructors of Introduction to Global Librarianship
We are offering a new course this March, Introduction to Global Librarianship. We interviewed the instructors Loida Garcia-Febo, Ray Pun, and Robin Kear to hear about their work in libraries and their inspiration behind developing this new course.
1. Can you share a bit about your work in libraries?
Robin: In my twenty year career, I have worked mainly in academic libraries, but also in public and special libraries. I have worked in different countries, both in short-term residency and through consulting. My longest role has been as a faculty librarian at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. I love that the practicalities of librarianship are constantly changing with the world’s innovations, but the core values of intellectual freedom, community outreach, and cultural preservation have not changed. I love working with and teaching students to be prepared and think critically about information, whatever form that information takes. I love delving deep into what they are researching because I always learn something new.
Ray: I’ve worked in many types of libraries such as public, academic and special over the course 17+ years in the field. I had an opportunity to collaborate with others to build New York University Shanghai’s 2 libraries – one in a shared campus and another in a separate building in Shanghai, China. I also enjoyed serving and collaborating with international students and faculty. Currently, my role as an education librarian is to engage with teacher educators and graduate students preparing to be teachers in California. My work revolves around many areas such as supporting scholarly communication, research services, information literacy and access, and collections building.
Loida: Collaboration with library workers from different regions of the world is the main pillar of my career. In my almost 25 years career I have taught about human rights, diversity, communities, library workers, wellness, and technology changes, among others, in 45 countries. In my job as a consultant I help libraries, companies and organizations strategize programs and services in areas related to these topics and many others. Recently, I started a partnership with the San Jose State University iSchool where I am its first Health and Wellness Ambassador. My service to librarianship has included roles as ALA President 2018-2019 and REFORMA President 2009-2010. Currently I serve on the following roles: IFLA Governing Board member 2013-2017, 2023-Present, Trustee of the Freedom to Read Foundation 2020-Present, Chair of ALA IRC United Nations Subcommittee, and Chair of ALA Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship. I was born, raised, and educated in Puerto Rico, and have a Bachelors in Business Education and a Masters in Library and Information Sciences.
2. What are some of your interests related to libraries?
Robin: Libraries have always been very important to me, they are a force for connection, learning, understanding, and compassion. As I was figuring out what to do for a career, librarianship seemed to be full of interesting possibilities. The more experience that I gained, the more I realized that libraries all over the world share the same community building values and face similar issues. The global connection among libraries was very exciting to me and I have explored different aspects of this in writing and presenting. I have been in academic libraries for twenty years, which allows me to intellectually follow this passion for global librarianship.
Ray: I have varying interests related to librarianship. I am thankful for so many opportunities to collaborate with amazing folks like Robin and Loida here to focus on specific topics such as global librarianship. I’ve spent time looking into how underrepresented groups use the public libraries in the face of broadband exclusion, and what policies can be considered to better support their needs; I’ve also explored the role ethnic studies programs impacting academic and research libraries and libraries need to be responsive and engaged in supporting Black Studies, Asian Pacific American Studies, Indigenous Studies, Chicanx & Latinx Studies, and now I’ve done exploration work in generative artificial intelligence and its implication for library instruction. All that is to say, it’s been an opportunity to learn more as a librarian and to be curious because I have the opportunity to share with others what I’ve learned and applied in my own work as a librarian.
Loida: My interests within librarianship vary widely. I am fortunate to be able to collaborate with colleagues like Ray and Robin, and truly amazing folks from different regions of the world to bring efforts to fruition. I am proud to be a co-founder of the IFLA New Professionals Special Interest Group which is the global forum for new librarians and LIS students. As the Concept Originator of the REFORMA Northeast Joint Mini Conference of Librarians of Color, a long-standing regional conference including the National Associations of Librarians of Color, I loved to establish this event now in its 18 year. Library advocacy is central to the work I do having advocated for libraries at the United Nations, the European Union Parliament, U.S. Congress, NY State Senate, NY City Hall, and on sidewalks and streets in various states in the U.S. Building on my ALA Presidency focus on the area of wellness, I have since then expanded my research to publish and teach about this topic globally. I am passionate about emerging technologies, diversity, human rights, and freedom of expression about which I am continuously developing a myriad of projects with colleagues across the globe.
3. Why were you interested in designing this new course for Library Juice Academy?
Ray: I really wanted to co-teach a course on global librarianship that was practical, focused on areas of interest such as working abroad, studying abroad, and developing awareness of how libraries around the world support one another, and that we as library workers, can engage in important issues impacting libraries globally, and be global citizens too!
Loida: Collaborating with Ray and Robin, who are also passionate about international work, is such a unique opportunity to share our experiences in international librarianship. Throughout the years many librarians and library students have consulted me about my global work. This course is an opportunity to have access to insights related to our secret international librarianship sauce and how we carry out such work.
Robin: We felt that there was a gap for this type of course and we wanted to share our passion for global librarianship. It is extremely gratifying to work on this course with two wonderful colleagues who I greatly admire. Exploring how libraries are interconnected, and how global library workers can help each other and work together to solve professional and community issues, is a main purpose of the course.