Samantha Quiñon knew she needed more technological literacy when she started her graduate degree in information sciences.
“I was never a technology person. I could barely set up my iPod before,” Quiñon admitted.
But librarians are no longer “custodians of information,” said Quiñon, a former elementary school teacher. When it comes to research in modern libraries, “we’re more like curators and people who tear down barriers to access.” To improve library services and provide more avenues to information, librarians have to be tech savvy.
After embracing tech and interning at Lesley, Quiñon took on a full-time position in September 2016. As the assistant director and head of research and instruction for our university libraries, she has spearheaded the new library website and taken on new teaching responsibilities — all of which lead to her selection as one of 50 Emerging Leaders for 2018 by the American Library Association (ALA).
“I wanted to be a part of ALA's Emerging Leaders program to benefit from a variety of perspectives on leadership, which I could then use in my own practice as a library administrator, a role where I view technology as an important force for change,” said Quiñon, who was the 2016-17 co-chair of the ALA’s New Member Round Table Student and Student Chapter Outreach committee.
Navigating the new landscape
Designed for those new to the library field, the Emerging Leaders program gives librarians resources to develop in their careers through problem-solving workshops, networking with peers, leadership opportunities and an inside look into the association’s structure.
Quiñon kicks off the program in February with a day-long session at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Denver, Colorado. After that, she and the other participants will spend six months engaging in online learning opportunities and interacting with fellow librarians, culminating in a presentation at the ALA Annual Conference in June in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“We’ll be learning a lot about leadership and management, how to push your vision forward so that your library remains relevant and enriching and empowering in an incredibly tricky landscape,” Quiñon said.
University and public libraries face difficult decisions as publication fees increase annually and as they navigate which digital databases and resources offer the most value and access to researchers — all while operating within conservative budgets.
“We’re looking at ways…to provide more equitable access to research and information,” said Quiñon.
The Emerging Leaders program will equip her with resources to improve the library's teaching and learning program, particularly on the technology front — which is appropriate as Quiñon was one of two people sponsored by the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the ALA.
“I'm particularly honored to be sponsored by LITA, which so successfully supports the challenge of making technology expertise and knowledge both accessible and attainable in an incredibly dynamic digital landscape,” she said.
The training she will receive in the next several months will give her a greater understanding of how to employ technology in the library and how to incorporate it into the greater Lesley community.
A new kind of literacy
The role of technology and education at Lesley were two reasons Quiñon wanted to return to Lesley after interning with the library during her graduate program at Simmons College.
Developing systems to enhance communication and research has been an area of study since Quiñon studied communications arts as an undergraduate at Florida International University. That focus continued into her graduate studies in Information Science and Technology at Simmons, where she earned a master of science.
She was excited to find a position that encompassed technology and research in an environment where she valued the faculty and staff as well as the university’s mission.
“The university is just incredible on so many different levels — from the people and the faculty right on down to the students. I was really happy to be back,” she said.
Quiñon has been busy since returning to campus. She was instrumental in the website reconstruction project for the library system. The new site launched in May 2017 and features a live chat, research aids and the Digital Commons, a repository for Lesley research, publications and university archives.
Quiñon says the new site has given the library control over its online presence while freeing librarians to work with students, particularly developing their information literacy.
A frequent lecturer and panelist on the topics of website design and best practices for research, Quiñon is leading a team that is crafting an online information literacy course that will help students identify and evaluate social, cultural and historical biases in their research.
She will continue to build on these skills as she collaborates with faculty to integrate the library and its offerings into their coursework.
Said Quiñon, “I’m looking forward to more faculty partnerships and collaborations.”