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I Am MLA: Julia M. Esparza

Submitted by Julia M. Esparza; edited by JJ Pionke.
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Institution: Louisiana State University Health

Title: Associate Director

Brief description of responsibilities:

I manage access services and I'm the liaison to the School of Medicine.

Why is MLA important to you?

The people. Out and out my colleagues are the best thing about MLA. I learn so much from so many people. The shared knowledge in MLA is unparalleled and invaluable.

Why did you become a librarian?

I loved my grade school librarian. At eight, I knew I wanted to be a librarian. At eight, I also knew that I would never want to be a school librarian and deal with kids just like me.

What was your first library job or first professional position?

How far should I go back? I was a library clerk at the grade school library when I was in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade (school was K-8). I worked in college at the circulation desk at University of Evansville in Evansville, IN, as a student worker. My first paraprofessional position was as night/weekend supervisor at Business/SPEA Library at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, while working on my MLIS. My first professional position was as reference/bibliographic instruction librarian at the Armstrong State College in Savanah, GA (now called Georgia Southern University–Armstrong Campus).

What is your advice to someone taking on a new role in leadership in MLA or in some other capacity?

Step out of your comfort zone and go for it. It is scary, but you will learn so much about yourself and the organization. Meeting others in the organization can show you so much about the jobs we do in our professional world, and learning about their skills can provide you with a networking list to turn to when you might need help.

What has been the most interesting project you have worked on?

I would have to say the most interesting project I worked on was the "Community Knowledge Assessment of HPV Vaccination in Males." We surveyed clinical visitors on their knowledge and willingness to vaccinate males to prevent HPV-related cancers. It was part of a diversity summer program, and all three of the students have gone on to great success. One started medical school last year, one graduated as a chemical engineer, and another is looking to enter physician assistants school. We presented the data, but due to all our schedules we never buckled down and wrote the article. That is a big regret on my part.

What do you consider to be the most pressing issues or trends in librarianship?

I'm sure many people will say this, but proving our value as facilitators, utilizers, and conservators of information. Our value is immense and how can we study that to prove it is the big question.

Bucket list:

I want to spend a week in Washington, DC (I was planning to do this at this year's MLA meeting), going to all the places in Washington, DC, I haven't seen such as the Library of Congress and a multitude of museums. I've always had to go in and out, and I wanted to be a tourist just once.

What do you do in your spare time?

I read romances, I put together Legos (yes, my deprived childhood showing there), and I LOVE to go to movies. My taste goes mostly toward horrible action movies.

What is the best thing you’ve read/watched/listened to recently?

Best thing I have watched recently that isn't junk—Minari. The most interesting thing I've read in a while is this article by van der Vegt et al.: How searching under time pressure impacts clinical decision making. J Med Libr Assoc. 2020 Oct;108(4):564–573.DOI: I'm plotting some research for the summer of 2022 that may involve these research concepts and some other things I've been collecting that I've put on hold while serving MLA.

Five words to describe you:

Blunt, high-strung, tenacious, helpful, overthinker

Is there anything about you that others might be surprised to know?

I'm one of twelve children and my paternal grandparents (Esparza) came directly from Mexico in 1922 right before my father was born.

What are you most proud of?

Professionally, my work as a mentor to the high school, undergraduate, and graduate students that has earned research awards and has resulted in many of them going to medical school and other professional degrees. Personally, I'm proud of my awesome husband and son!

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