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Scholar Spotlight: Iliana Burgos (2019) in Conversation with the Spectrum Advisory Committee

Cover to the book: Knowledge Justice

The Spectrum Scholarship Program actively recruits and provides scholarships to American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern and North African, and/or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students to assist them with obtaining a graduate degree and leadership positions within the profession and ALA. Spectrum Scholarship Alumni are part of what makes this program successful -- we are thrilled to highlight Iliana Burgos (2019 Spectrum Scholar) who currently works at Cornell University Library to talk about the Scholarship, as well as current work. This interview was conducted via email with Spectrum Advisory Co-Chairs, Kay P Maye, and Ramon Garcia in November, 2023.

What area(s) of librarianship have you worked in thus far?:

I'm currently the Emerging Data Practices Librarian (read: a data and digital scholarship librarian) at Cornell University Library. Previously, I've held outreach and engagement roles at the University Libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Carolina Academic Library Associate fellow and at the Wilmington Institute Free Library (DE) before going to graduate school.

What are some current projects that you're really excited about right now?

I'm serving as a co-editor on an upcoming volume, to be published by the Association of College & Research Libraries in 2025: Text and Data Mining Literacy for Librarians. The volume features over thirty chapters on perspectives and practical discussions regarding text and data mining topics. Shout-out to my co-editors, Whitney Kramer and Evan Muzzall, and all the contributing authors! In collaboration with the Library Freedom Project, I'm also serving as a co-PI on a project called "Open Educational Resources (OER) on Algorithmic Literacy," generously funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services as a planning grant under the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. We are conducting research on the needs and interests regarding algorithmic literacy among adult learners at academic and public library settings and building OER prototypes to meet those needs.聽 Shout-out to project co-PI Reanna Esmail (2022 participant of the Minnesota Institute for Early Career Librarians), as well as our awesome team of collaborators: Hebah Emara (2019-20 OCLC/LITA Spectrum Scholar), Scarlet Galvan and Andrea Puglisi!

What has the Spectrum community provided you in the years since you've graduated library school?

I'm grateful that there's been at least one Spectrum Scholar colleague at every library I've worked in up and down the east coast. They, along with other amazing library workers of color, help me feel supported, visible, and human as I pursue the day-to-day work. From check-ins to professional collaborations, the Spectrum community has been a constant source of encouragement to me.

How do you carry that sense of camaraderie and connection forward to others in the LIS profession?

I try my best to stay in touch with Scholars and encourage aspiring librarians of color to apply to the program. The experiences of entering a graduate program, completing it, entering (and staying in) the profession to pursue work of importance can be demanding. We need to continue advocating for each other as we bring important vision and genius to the field. I do what I can to extend mutual support and solidarity as we experience inequities individually and as collective communities. Spaces for authentic connection, mentorship (both as a mentee and a mentor) as well as straight-up friendship are powerful bonds that help fuel the work.聽

Working in libraries can sometimes take us far from home. What are some favorite regional foods that you look forward to getting if you ever return for visits? Alternately, what are some favorite dishes that you discovered along the way?

Too many foods to name! From Connecticut, I miss New Haven pizza and the pasteler铆as in New Britain. I have great memories of eating dim sum in Philadelphia. And North Carolina barbecue!