Library Staff Member and Spectrum Scholar reflects on American Library Association Annual Conference

Casey Ann Mitchell is the Acquisitions Supervisor for Pepperdine Libraries and she works out of Payson Library.  In addition to being a great member of the Library staff, Casey is currently pursuing her MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science) at the University of North Texas and was selected as a 2011 Spectrum Scholar. Below are Casey’s reflections.

ALA Spectrum Wrap Up

The American Library Association’s annual conference took place in Anaheim this year. As the recipient of an ALA Spectrum Scholarship I attended a special Leadership Institute at the conference. The Spectrum Scholarship Program was started by former ALA president Dr. Betty J. Turock in 1998. Its goal is to recruit, aid and train students from underrepresented populations in an attempt to ensure that the library workforce is as diverse as the populations they serve. The development of a diverse library field will improve service at the local level and ensure that broader diversity issues are addressed as the library field grows and develops. The Spectrum program has awarded nearly 800 scholarships to date.

The Spectrum Institute brought together this year’s group of about 50 Spectrum Scholars from all over the nation. Connections were made with people from Vancouver to Minnesota to New York. It was wonderful to be among a group of future library leaders who were eager and attentive as we attended workshops, presentations and listened to panels of current information professionals. Information on the basics of career development, the importance of professional service and continuous professional development was provided to the group of scholars by panels of librarians some of whom were successful Spectrum alumni.

The theme throughout the weekend was Technology Transforms Communities. Presentations were heard from those who are using technology to aid the elderly in Los Angeles, provide internet access to remote American Indian tribes in San Diego and those analyzing current trends in technology. As a future information professionals it is important to learn how to decipher the needs of a community and to ensure those needs are met in the best, most efficient manner possible. Often, technology will aid in meeting these needs. However, it is key to understand that it is not simply a matter of teaching new technology to others. One must find a way to improve and build community through the use of new technologies.

The highlight of the Technology Transforms Communities series for me was the presentation by Matthew Rantanen. Mr. Rantanen spearheaded the Tribal Digital Village project. With the help of the local American Indian community he successfully created a network of solar and wind powered wireless access points which provide broadband access to tribal reservation communities in the San Diego area. Major community buildings are able to have free access to the internet, a service that many of us take for granted, and hundreds of homes are able to access the broadband connection at a very low cost. Mr. Rantanen did not simply provide the access. He trained the local youth to set up and maintain the wireless access points. Many community programs and services have developed and greatly benefitted from internet access. Through his efforts Mr. Rantanen has kept an entire community from falling behind as the world rushes forward into the digital age. Please visit for further details on this amazing program.

Many stories of community building were heard throughout the weekend. Additionally, facts were provided on minority communities which clearly show that many still struggle to keep up with the rapid advances in technology. For many a library is the only place where they can access and learn about new technologies. For some it is the only place where they will learn about, experiment with and create the tools that can help them stay abreast of changes in the professional world.

The institute provided me with invaluable information about the current trends in the profession of information science. I was given some of the basic tools needed to better serve a diverse community and inspired to find new ways to help others discover the information they need.

Library Staff Member and Spectrum Scholar reflects on American Library Association Annual Conference