Interview with Victor Baeza about ALA’s Library Instruction Round Table

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

April 16, 2024

I had the pleasure of interviewing Victor Baeza about the Library Instruction Round Table. This can be a place for special librarians whose responsibilities include training and instruction.

1. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

I am the current president of the Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT) and I have been part of LIRT since I earned my MLS from the University of North Texas in the mid-1990s. I am currently the Scholarly Communication Librarian at Colorado State University Pueblo (CSUP), a position I have held since June of 2023. Prior to that I was the Graduate Initiatives and Engagement Coordinator at Oklahoma State University (OSU) for 18 years. In my career I’ve worked as a library student employee, spent a short time in public libraries, worked in a small private university library, a large state institution, and am now back to a small library.

I grew up in Bosque Farms, NM. So CSUP was a chance to move back to the mountains and the dry air. I went to Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) for my degree in communication, and that is where I got a work study job in the library. Little did I know I would still be working in libraries 33 years later. After graduating from ENMU I went to North Texas for my MLS and worked in the Fort Worth Public Library before taking a position at Texas Christian University and then moving on to OSU.

2. Please describe the Library Instruction Roundtable (LIRT).

LIRT has been a part of ALA since 1977 and it was founded on the idea of empowering librarians, from all types of libraries, to become better teachers. It is one of the larger round tables in ALA and its activities have for the most part focused on sharing instruction ideas and techniques, developing leadership, and networking. I say “for the most part” because over the years LIRT has been what its members have made it. Because LIRT is a round table rather than a part of a specific ALA Division like RUSA, PLA or ACRL, it has been a place for librarians from a wide array of libraries to come together and learn from one another. No matter the environment you work in there is a place for you in LIRT, and the greater the variety of information professionals in LIRT the more we can learn from one another.

3. LIRT represents all librarians including special librarians. Will you describe how special librarians are specifically supported within LIRT?

In my experience collaborating with special librarians they are usually working in small teams, if not solo, and in an incredible array of work environments. But they are all in some way involved with teaching, even if they may call it something else like programming or training. LIRT provides a place to build a community and share knowledge and experiences, and a chance to learn from the vast array of things members are doing. 

4. What is one thing you would like special librarians to know about LIRT?

As I mentioned earlier, LIRT is not tied to a specific type of library so it can provide a space where a group can form and create a home or find a home in what already exists. There are various committees that review new things going on in teaching, there is always the possibility of creating a new committee specific to something in special libraries, or LIRT has always been a great way to get involved in ALA for the first time and get comfortable with leadership roles.

5. How do you see special librarians engaging in conversations about teaching information literacy?

Early in my career I think the conversation about information literacy was focused on academia. But more recently there is a greater interest in the development of information literacy in the workplace and how it can improve productivity, work satisfaction, and work flows. There is a growing trend of librarians leaving the “traditional settings” and working in museums, law firms, hospitals, corporations, or associations of all kinds. In these settings librarians are taking their information literacy skills and developing new and exciting ways to teach those they serve how to not only improve their work, but also their time away from work. It is this work that I hope they bring to LIRT.

6. How can librarians become involved with LIRT?

I mentioned earlier that LIRT is involved in a lot of different areas and that a good way to get involved in through some committee work. Some committees I think would be of interest are the Conference Programming Committee, the Top 20 Committee, and the Awards Committee. All three involve reviewing articles or proposals/nominations, and I learned a lot about what innovative things were being done when I participated. The Conference Programming Committee will determine the topic for the annual conference program and invite proposals, so it is a great opportunity to have special librarians contribute their experience and influence what we do.

7. Are there any specific needs that LIRT has where special librarians can offer expertise?

LIRT, like most groups, could always benefit from more diverse voices and experiences. The expertise possessed by special librarians is incredibly vast because of the wide array of positions and work performed. Whether it is working with a specific population with different needs, or working in a unique environment, there is going to be something there that others can learn from and learning from each other is something LIRT has always been good at facilitating. 

8. Is there anything else you would like to share?

Yes. LIRT has always been at its best when our involved members have come from different parts of the information world. The wider the array of librarians/information professionals involved, the better LIRT has been at providing resources to members. It can serve as an entryway to leadership and involvement in ALA governance, or it can be a place where you join (or build) a community to share and learn new ways of teaching. I have been a part of LIRT for 30 years and have loved every minute of it.

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Dr. Lauren Hays is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri, and a frequent presenter and interviewer on topics related to libraries and librarianship. Please read Lauren’s other posts relevant to special librarians. Take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterprise, and GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all types, sizes and budgets.

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