Marisa C. Hernandez, 2017 McKinley winner

Marisa C. Hernandez is a graduate student working on her Master in Management in Library and Information Science, Marshall School of Business at the Univerity of Southern California.

Maria is one of two winners of the 2017 McKinley Scholarship.

The following is her essay submission.

As a public library assistant in Southeast Los Angeles I created S.T.E.A.M. programming ranging from interactive iPad storytime for toddlers, to building race cars controlled by coding for school-age children, to making music and editing beats with young adults. As a student, I have focused my research on reducing information barriers to people with disabilities, the elderly and English Language Learners, while taking into consideration the different ways people learn. With an eye toward the future, I seek technological innovations to solve these challenges in the library through sensory learning–visual, tactile, aural, and reading/writing. MIT’s the FingerReader, is a small finger-worn device that reads paper-printed text in real time. In libraries assistive technologies (AT), like the FingerReader, are solutions to size, speed and technological problems posed by traditional AT. In a thesis I recently wrote entitled, Human-OPAC Interaction: Life, Searching, and Assistive Technology in the Augmented Age, I examine current and future commercial technologies that should be considered part of libraries’ technological universal design toward providing better online public access computers (OPACs), to reduce barriers to information accessibility for people with disabilities. Furthermore, taking into account the developmental and psychological stages of human development to create efficient user-friendly information searching techniques, such as touch screen OPACs, haptics, avatar navigation and graphic interface design features that service the diverse informational needs of all patrons within their capabilities to increase independent information seekers.

As I transition from student to professional librarian, this opportunity to apply for a travel scholarship to attend the Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) Diversity of Engagement: Connecting People and Information in the Physical and Virtual Worlds Conference, builds upon my experience with S.T.E.A.M. programming in the field and my professional passion for improving information access with technology through the exchange of ideas and leadership strategies, in order to teach and build stronger library communities. Furthermore, by attending this conference I will be advancing my professional networking skills amongst other ASIS&T techies exposing me to a national and international professional information science and technology perspective to aid me in developing my librarian-as-futurist leadership skills.

Attending this conference will evolve my knowledge to continue information technology research supported by a strong information science and technology association. Thus, in order to become a contributing member of ASIS&T my career aspiration is to be a published author and future library director. It is my belief that library leaders must embody the role of librarian-as-futurist combining their professional knowledge of information retrieval, especially in demographics, as they are the witnesses to front-line community engagement, and the effects of technology on people, in order to provide foresight into how best to prepare library organizations, infrastructure, staff and communities for technological changes that impact the human desire for increased access to information. To remain relevant into the future libraries must maintain and provide technological services in libraries that focus on democratizing information literacy by incorporating mainstream consumer technologies, while increasing equal access to information for not only society’s most vulnerable but for all patrons.

With that said, I can think of no better conference aligned with my professional and educational interests to gain an array of inspiration and knowledge from. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

The McKinley Memorial Scholarship offers travel funds for students to attend the ASIS&T Annual Meeting.