The following is a guest post by NPSIG volunteer Mary Marques. Mary currently works with REFORMA Northeast. More information, including links to her various projects, is included at the bottom of the post.
REFORMA is the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to the Latinos and the Spanish Speaking Community in the United States. REFORMA National and its nineteen chapters are committed to work together to preserve the language, the culture and the traditions of 56.2 million Spanish-speaking and Latino people in this part of the globe. According to the 2010 US Census, the Hispanic population grew up forty-three percent in comparison with the 2000 US Census. The result of this preliminary survey revealed that the Hispanic community, in the United States, is getting more ethnically diverse with a substantial grow of the Mexican population. Library leaders are taking this demographic data to analyses and to prioritize not only the purchase of books, but also to determine how to allocate the budget for programing, and how to market intergenerational-cultural events to the community that reflect cross-cultural competence.
Bilingual and bicultural librarians are the primary agents to advocate for more resources that can promote cross-cultural communication in a cross-cultural environment. REFORMA, as non- profit organization, advocates that libraries support and preserve the cultural traditions of the Spanish speaking community from one generation to the other. Historically, this organization was established in 1971 as an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA) with the purpose of promoting “the development of library collections to include Spanish-language and Latino oriented materials; the recruitment of more bilingual and bicultural library professionals and support staff; the development of library services and programs that meet the needs of the Latino community; the establishment of a national information and support network among individuals who share our goals; the education of the U.S. Latino population in regards to the availability and types of library services; and lobbying efforts to preserve existing library resource centers serving the interests of Latinos.” (www.reforma.org)
REFORMA has developed various types of multicultural Awards, Scholarship and Mini-Grants for monolingual and bilingual librarians in order to promote programs that embrace diversity, equity and inclusion in a cross-cultural environment. Furthermore, REFORMA is also concerned with the social-cultural events that are affecting minor children that are arriving from Central America to the United States without a definite legal status. One of the recent projects that REFORMA is working on at the national level is Children in Crisis: Books and Backpacks for Unaccompanied Refugee Children. This project was created by the task force of REFORMA bilingual/bicultural librarians with the objective to aid 70,000 immigrants’ refugee children that were crossing the Mexican border into the United States in order to join their parents (learn more here).
Children in Crisis intends to help immigrant children coming from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – who are escaping from the social violence of their native countries– with their information and literacy needs in Spanish to reinforce the cultural bonds to their home country while they’re waiting at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities. This program has two phases: in the first phase, the current President of REFORMA, Silvia Cisneros, dropped off donated materials at the McAllen, Texas ICE detention center. In the second stage, nineteen local chapters will work with their respective committee boards and States coordinators to identify the social services agencies and the shelters that refugee children will be relocated. In this second part of the program, the unaccompanied children will receive school backpacks with essential supplies for writing and painting, and books in Spanish to support the reinforcement of their primary language and minimize the social impact of the host country until they arrive to their final destination.
REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to the Latinos and the Spanish Speaking Community in the United States, supports the effort to maintain the Spanish language and culture traditions, at all levels, of the twenty-one Spanish speaking countries that conform the Latino culture in the United States. For additional information about REFORMA please visit www.reforma.org.
Mary Marques works as a reference librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP), United States. She serves on the Free Library’s New American Committee and as REFORMA Northeast Vice President/ President elected for 2014-2016 period. In addition, she supports REFORMA NE as the State Coordinator for Pennsylvania. Mary holds a Master Degree in Library and Information Science from Clarion University, United States, a second Master Degree in Bilingual/Bicultural Studies from La Salle University, United States, and a Bachelor Degree in Communication Science, Journalism, from Inca Garcilaso de la Vega University, Peru. Mary loves to travel and to learn about other cultures. She enjoys capturing special moments with her creative photography. If you would like to contact her, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.