On Saturday Jan. 25, 2020 at ALA Midwinter annual conference, awardees of the coveted “I love My Librarian Award” gather for the awards ceremony.

For those that were not able to attend, here is the video of Jesús’ remarks followed by the text.

Good afternoon. Buenas tardes. First of all: gracias.  I want to express my gratitude to those who created this award for basing it on a sentiment so fundamentally necessary to the human experience: love. Every day, millions of user interactions with librarians happen nationwide.  This award brings visibility to these connections. Everytime I travel to a city or town, I visit their libraries. They are this country’s  best public service and that is greatly due to you librarians.

Since an early age in my home country, Spain, I wanted to be a librarian so that I could connect people with the information they need. This task, in all its intricacies, is the basic tenet of a profession that fills my heart with joy. We all have librarians we love, and If you don’t, then go find one. There are plenty out there! The librarians that I love are in the trenches, making a daily impact in people’s lives. They are generous with personal time and easily accessible. I feel fortunate to have met and worked with librarians like this. I dedicate this award to those librarians that speak up, that are part of their communities and fight tirelessly for them. Also, as a librarian born and raised in another country, I would like to dedicate this award to the foreign librarians that have developed a career in the United States.  We enthusiastically contribute to your communities. I hope that libraries will keep hiring us. I am thankful that my University, UAlbany, did.

I have been fortunate to develop a career as a subject librarian in the United States. I believe in the value of subject knowledge and language expertise in libraries. We cannot forget the importance of building unique, strong collections which embrace multiple voices and different perspectives. To achieve this, we must continue developing collections that include materials published in other countries and in other languages. I appreciate that ALA provides support for its members to attend book fairs, such as in Guadalajara and Buenos Aires. I hope that ALA can expand these programs which are essential to maintaining diversity in our collections.

This vision of developing collections constantly informs my information literacy practices. How can we develop well-rounded research about the US/Mexican border without access to Mexican sources? How can we fully understand Indigenous social movements without the primary sources created by them? 

Students need to learn how to find and evaluate resources from other cultures in order to understand the complexity of their research projects. We librarians should support teaching, learning and research in an increasingly interconnected global environment that is not exclusively in English. Let us be receptive to cultural practices from around the world, such as the Global South’s creative and fearless approach to open access.

As an academic librarian, I am nothing without my faculty and students. Due to our continued collaboration, we were able to design sustainable information literacy programs integrated into the curriculum that reach out to every student in the three academic departments that I support. The key to successful programs is to accomplish them with our users, not just for them. 

But, how can you build significant connections with users? By showing them empathy and providing them an inclusive space, so that they feel part of our libraries.  If they love us, it is because we as librarians are committed to building long lasting connections with our communities. There are many concrete ways to demonstrate our dedication to serving our communities. Today, let me mention one. You might have heard of the efforts to change the subject heading “illegal aliens.”  Let’s change it in our library catalogs. If we can only do this at the local level for right now, so be it. What’s important is taking a stand: No human being is illegal.

In closing, Nobel prize winner, Gabriel García Márquez, was once asked, “Why do you write?” and he said, “I write to be loved.” This makes me wonder: “Why am I a librarian?” Why do I do what I do?” My answer could be: “because it gives meaning to my life.” I would  also like to add: what keeps me motivated and passionate as a librarian is the love and appreciation of students and faculty. They are the reason why I am here today.

De todo corazón, gracias. 

Here are some links to press releases covering the news.

Librarian’s knowledge, passion recognized with national award from News at the University at Albany, SUNY.

Todos tenemos bibliotecarios que amamos, y si no los tienes, ve a buscar uno from Universo Abierto.

Jesús Alonso-Regalado from “I Love My Librarian Award”