Victoria Fernandez: Persevering Through the Pandemic

I believe that librarians and libraries are harbingers of democracy with the capacity to do great things. They transcend collections, programs and services and staff become information facilitators that can and have transformed lives. My philosophy is that a great library holds a mirror up to its community; it elevates the great work of organizations around them working towards similar goals. There are so many ways librarians can participate in social justice, craftivism, collection development, programming and serve in a way that holistically benefits and takes care of our entire community.

Recent SLIS graduate, Victoria Fernandez, has worn many hats before as well as after discovering her passion for librarianship. She credits Cedar Rapids library with helping her determine her path to librarianship. Before beginning work at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, Victoria worked multiple customer service oriented jobs such as retail and the food industry and was also a Master Gardener and taught classes for the American Red Cross. With a passion for service, Victoria channeled her energy into librarianship because she “wanted to serve the public in a way [she] felt could be both symbiotic, ever-evolving and helpful”.

Through graduate school, Victoria remained at the Cedar Rapids Public Library until graduating in the spring of 2020. Being a 2020 graduate, Victoria entered the job market during an unprecedented time. Luckily, Victoria was able to start at the Iowa City Public Library as the teen services librarian, but her job was anything but “business as usual”. Victoria had to figure out how to engage with an audience that she had not met before, she had to engage over the internet, and there was a global pandemic happening. Talk about an uphill battle! Fortunately, Victoria was excited for the challenge and extremely passionate about her patrons. “The years between 12 and 18 are so crucial in determining the type of fully-fledged human you’ll be and I see it as a huge opportunity to support, nurture and prepare our young adults to thrive in our community.” In order to push through the struggles of working online, Victoria said that she has strengthened her focus on planning and collaborating with other librarians from various libraries. Victoria also stressed the importance of including interactive elements that people can do along with the program such as a fun craft in order to keep people engaged online. She even has hope for the future of Zoom programming and stated that she thinks Zoom “will stick around and removes some barriers to access for groups who don’t drive or are in senior homes.”

With in person events still being limited, Victoria remains positive. She is most excited about a new series of programs called the “Teen Workforce Initiative”, which will include resume help, mock interviews, and guest panels. This program will be offered once a month, and for the time being, will be online. “It’s my hope to recruit many young people to become panelists to show the audience what’s possible.”

As a reminder for all current and future librarians, Victoria states “It is our ethical responsibility to ensure we are representative of our community, are anticipating community needs and are providing outstanding service for all.”