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Reaching West, Way West

Dr. Cortez with REFORMA leadersDr. Cortez and SIS staff attended the recent REFORMA Annual Conference in Denver Colorado from September 14 to 18.  REFORMA is the national association created in 1971 to promote library and information sciences to Latinos and the Spanish speaking communities.  Sessions at this conference mainly concentrated on two key areas:  how libraries can better serve their Latino communities and how universities can recruit Latinos into librarianship.

As an academic leader on the national stage, Dr. Cortez once again demonstrated his understanding of the broader stage in our industry by ensuring the University of Tennessee School of Information Sciences story was told at this conference.  The other ‘east coast’ schools represented at this conference were Drexel and Simmons, both top-ten rated by US News and the University of South Florida, a top thirty ranked school. 

Dr. Cortez with Luis Chaparro, Director of Library Technical Services for El Paso Community CollegeDuring the opening session, IMLS Director Susan Hildreth pointed to UT SIS planning grant for LaSCALA (Latino Scholars Cambio Leadership Academy) as an example of the efforts needed going forward to recruit more Latinos into quality academic programs for advanced degrees in Library and Information Sciences.  Her remarks and accolades for UT SIS encouraged many conference attendees to stop by the exhibit and gather information about the programs and options available.  Many of these visitors were unaware of the UT program and did not realize the program had a long history of excellence in LIS academics.  As Dr. Cortez summarized, “Participation in this conference clearly demonstrated our commitment to diversity and to serving the broad-scope of communities across our state that require the services of their local libraries.  We have taken the first steps on a long road to becoming a nationally recognized school on a scale far beyond our historical reach. By expanding the footprint of awareness, we can continue to recruit the best and the brightest students and faculty from across the country.”