Submitted by Deidre (Dede) Rios, AHIP; edited by JJ Pionke
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Institution: Rosenberg School of Optometry, University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX
Title: Director of Optometric and Clinical Library Services
Brief description of responsibilities
My responsibilities include contributing to the strategic initiatives and mission of the library and university through oversight of the optometry library’s operations and staff development. As a member of the leadership teams for both the optometry school and university libraries, I serve as a conduit and model behaviors that promote a safe and collaborative environment that fosters growth, facilitates informed decision making, and builds strong relationships.
Why is MLA important to you?
MLA is my professional home base. It’s my go-to place to meet other medical librarians, continue my professional development, and stay in tune with the latest trends in the profession.
Why did you become a librarian?
I became a librarian at the coaxing of a very convincing medical librarian goddess, Ana D. Cleveland, AHIP, FMLA. She made me realize that my love of learning, being in the know, and connecting people to vital information was something that I could do daily as a librarian.
What was your first library job or first professional position?
My first professional position was reference and instruction librarian at Our Lady of the Lake University.
What is your advice to someone taking on a new role in leadership in MLA or in some other capacity?
You bring value to the role. New leaders bring fresh ideas, new perspectives, and enthusiasm. MLA supports their leadership, so ask questions, reach out to MLA staff, respected colleagues, and leaders. Listen to your constituents and follow through on your responsibilities, delegate when you can, and remember what you appreciate in others, so that you may develop those skills in your leadership style.
What has been the most interesting project you have worked on?
The most recent interesting project I have worked on is the MLA Reads virtual book discussions. It allows me to build relationships across librarianship; keep diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives prominent in my daily work; and learn from MLA colleagues.
What do you consider to be the most pressing issues or trends in librarianship?
I think the most pressing issue in librarianship is an established well-defined identity that includes a more diverse representation and spans outside of the library world. Librarians are always scrambling to fill sundry information needs at record speed, and many times with underfunded budgets and diminishing staff, and still so many don’t fully understand what librarians do and how they contribute to the overall success of their institutions.
Authoring a book, visiting Iceland, and making fresh pasta in Tuscany are a few items on my bucket list.
What do you do in your spare time?
I don’t have much spare time, but I make time to read, ponder life, spend time with my family, watch movies with my grandsons, and keep in touch with friends.
What is the best thing you’ve read/watched/listened to recently?
The best thing I’ve read/watched/listened to is Becoming by Michelle Obama, This is Us (in preparation for the new season), and “Revolutionary” by Josh Wilson.
Five words to describe you
Positive, kind, passionate, curious, and blessed.
Is there anything about you that others might be surprised to know?
I was born in Mexico; English is not my first language; and I eat Mexican street food and enjoy it!
What are you most proud of?
Achieving my educational goals while raising my daughter as a single mom.