A Chat with Diversity Committee Chairs Clara Cabrera and Lisa Lopez-Terrones

By Rachel Finn

Difference matters–recognizing, accepting, acknowledging, celebrating–and there is little room in our field, or any other, for that matter, to ignore it. In the spirit of this, SLA NY’s Diversity Committee, co-chaired by Lisa Lopez-Terrones and Clara Cabrera, led chapter efforts to celebrate diversity through a series of events around the city. In the fall of 2013, at the start of their shared tenure, along with other members of the committee, the two surveyed Chapter members in order to gain useful insights for the direction and future planning of the committee.

While the committee did not ask members to self-identify with a specific group, they did ask members to express their “diversity areas of interest,” which helped gauge interest in a list of 2013-2014 programs the committee had worked together to develop.

Since mid-2013, events have included:

  • LGBT Walking Tour of Greenwich – Cross Over of Walking Tour and LGBT Librarian Socials, Collaboration with LLAGNY; (June 2013)
  • Immigration Experience Walking Tour of the Lower East Side – Walking Tour Series; (August 2013)
  • Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art – LGBT Librarian Socials, Collaboration with LLAGNY; (September 2013)
  • Spotlight Collection Series: Schomburg Center Prints and Photographs Division, Collaboration with SLA NY Professional Development; (October 2013)
  • Diversity of Workstyles Lecture, Collaboration with SLA NY Professional Development; (November 2013)
  •  Jazz Event at the Peter Jay Sharpe Theatre; (February 2014)
  • HerStory Archives Tour – LGBT Librarian Socials, Collaboration with LLAGNY; (May 2014)

To learn more about the Diversity Committee’s work, B2E chatted with Lisa Lopez-Terrones and Clara Cabrera about the committee and their views on diversity in LIS professions and SLA:

  1. What exactly do you mean when you talk about diversity? Within the field? Within SLA?

As co-chairs, Lisa Lopez-Terrones and I thought we should have a statement on record for what the mission of the committee was.  After looking at the national SLA language found in the 2013 Annual Report of the Diversity Leadership Development Program Committee, we formed a mission statement that was submitted to the SLA NY board. What is key to the Diversity Leadership Development Program Committee is that “Diversity refers to respecting individual differences, recognizing commonalities and cultivating a culture of inclusion among SLA members.”

  1.  What motivated the creation of the committee? Had any sort of committee centered around these issues existed before?

The SLA NY chapter previously had a Diversity Chair, and when the position became available around June of 2013 I was asked by then chapter President Moy McIntosh if I would be interested in the post.  Moy mentioned that earlier discussions among board members about who might chair the committee centered on programming and events. I proposed having the position filled by two people working as co-chairs, and having a broader committee work together on events.

For many reasons, I immediately thought of Lisa as my Co-Chair.  After putting some initial ideas together and getting approval to get some events underway, Lisa thought it would be beneficial to our committee to poll the membership to see if we were going in the right direction, and to help act as their voice for addressing relevant issues. The survey did not ask the respondent to self-identify with a “diversity” group, but did ask for diversity areas of interest – including women or men of color, LGBT, disabled, seniors, religious/cultural minorities, or no specific group.  The survey was successful in providing useful feedback on future planning. Our committee grew in number and we started planning event for the following years in the fall of 2013.  This included current committee members, Magalie Desince, Mayra Cabrera, Nick Collison (then SLA NY President Elect), Lisa Lopez-Terrones, and me.

  1. In your opinion, how can awareness of diversity issues enhance special libraries/info. science and SLA?

Recognizing all the issues and interests that make us unique brings us all to a better understanding of each other.  This enhances our lives personally and professionally as we consider different perspectives or seek to find collaborative opportunities.


Upcoming Diversity Committee programming for fall:

·      Immigrant Experience Walking Tour – September 28, 2014

·      Work/life program – November 10, 2014


For further details on the Diversity Committee or to contact current committee leadership http://www.sla.org/governance/committeescouncilsreps/dldp/