Published: March 04, 2023 by Kesheena Doctor
Last January, I was able to attend the Association of Research Libraries Leadership Symposium for Kaleidoscope Scholars in Vancouver, BC. This was the first event I attended as an MLIS graduate student and I had such an exhilarating time interacting with my cohort and future fellow librarians in a professional capacity.
The Kaleidoscope ARL program
Since 2000, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) supported the
Kaleidoscope Programa program that provides tuition assistance, professional development and other benefits for MLIS students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. For the 2022-2024 cohort, four I’m at school students have been accepted into the program; David Castro, Blanca Garcia-Barron, sourav guha and myself.
As part of the Kaleidoscope program, researchers were invited to participate in the
Annual ARL Leadership Symposium, which took place in Vancouver, BC, Canada. For four days, Kaleidoscope fellows networked with librarians from the host institution,
Simon Fraser University and other ARL-affiliated institutions such as the University of British Columbia.
ARL Leadership Symposium
The ARL Leadership Symposium was held primarily in downtown Simon Fraser Vancouver Campus
And Burnaby Campuswith a one-day visit to Vancouver from the University of British Columbia Campus. The symposium was
rich in round tables academic librarianship professionals sharing their experiences and insights on all facets of academic librarianship and offering advice on career development. Our group was also able to visit every library on campus and talk to staff about their experiences as academic librarians. As part of the agenda, a reception was also held at
Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Artoffering Kaleidoscope Fellows the chance to engage in a relaxed, one-on-one format with panelists and librarians from the reception’s co-organizers, Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia.
Each panel was hosted for Kaleidoscope Scholars and I learned so much useful information to help me on my journey as an academic librarian. As a first-generation Native American graduate student, I felt very overwhelmed with all the logistics surrounding librarianship. I don’t know if I’m taking the right courses, if I’m making the right connections, if I’m pursuing the right career path, and the feeling of impostor syndrome often makes me feel like I’ll never be a part of the profession. Hearing library professionals express similar feelings of inadequacy and overcome them to create viable and rewarding careers was so invaluable. Knowing that others felt the same way but were able to achieve their education and career goals not only made me feel validation of my struggles, but emboldened me to keep working towards my own goals.
Cohort of Kaleidoscope Fellows 2022-2024
The ARL Leadership Symposium was also very impactful, as I finally got to meet other members of my cohort of the Kaleidoscope Program. While every facet of the Kaleidoscope program is extremely helpful, meeting and interacting with other MLIS students with similar experiences to mine was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I spent the entire symposium making sure I was spending quality time with each member of the cohort. I cannot express how each interaction was so enriching and fulfilling. Although we all came from different backgrounds, our commonalities were apparent, especially our desire for radical change within librarianship. I especially enjoyed meeting other participants in the iSchool program. We were able to talk about our experiences with the program, including our recommended courses. I was extremely grateful to create a community with other MLIS students in person and that experience alone made the ARL Leadership Symposium worthwhile.
Connecting with Indigenous Librarians
During our visit to the campus of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, we were able to visit the Xwi7xwa bookcasewhich I talked about in a
previous blog. Although I discovered Aboriginal librarianship while researching the information group I chose at INFO 200, it was a totally different experience to be in an indigenous library interacting with indigenous librarians. I enjoyed this part of the symposium so much that I plan to work with Aboriginal students in a university library. The staff at Xwi7xwa Library were very kind and supportive, answering the myriad of questions I had about the intrinsic aspects of operating an Indigenous library.
At the suggestion of my mentor from the Kaleidoscope program, I also contacted an Aboriginal librarian whose scholarship I knew of in the Vancouver area. We were able to meet a few hours after the symposium and discuss issues related to Aboriginal librarians together. They were incredibly supportive of my goals and offered to help me in any way they could. Although it’s always been recommended, I never thought that simply reaching out to a colleague could make such meaningful connections. Again, it reminded us how supportive librarianship is and that many professional librarians are happy to connect with future colleagues.
In and around the host city
As a former resident of Portland, Oregon, I was very excited to visit the Pacific Northwest again. Vancouver, BC is such a beautiful city with many destinations to visit. I’m a vegan and was excited to visit some outstanding vegan restaurants in Vancouver. I was also able to visit the Vancouver Public Libraryis central
locationwhich was a popular destination for many members of our cohort.
I would like to thank everyone who participated in this wonderful opportunity. I had such a fun time and highly recommend all interested BIPOC MLIS students to apply for this program. If you have any questions, please comment below or contact me at