Sylvia Figueroa-Ortiz has been named the inaugural MIT Libraries-ACRL Diversity Alliance Administrative Fellow. Figueroa-Ortiz began a two-year appointment on June 6. The ACRL Diversity Alliance program unites academic libraries committed to increasing the hiring pipeline of qualified and talented individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.
At the MIT LIbraries, Figueroa-Ortiz will co-manage the growing Community Engagement program while also gaining insight on how to serve as a senior leader within an academic library through a mentorship with Associate Director of Research and Learning Alexia Hudson-Ward.
“I’m thrilled that Sylvia will be bringing her passion for community building to the MIT Libraries, and I am excited to see her contribute to the success of our blossoming Community Engagement program,” says Hudson-Ward. “I look forward to working together to identify and cultivate her long-range interests and goals for library leadership.”
Figueroa-Ortiz is a recent graduate of the MLIS program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). She holds an MA in Applied Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Modern Languages and English Linguistics and Communication from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. She is a member of the 2021-23 cohort of the ARL Kaleidoscope Program Diversity Scholars.
Before starting her career as a librarian, Figueroa-Ortiz served as a language teacher in Puerto Rico and Boston, where her passion for community building and engagement began. At UIUC, she worked as a graduate assistant in the Undergraduate Library. Through her assistantship, Figueroa-Ortiz partnered with the Latin cultural house on campus to create culturally inclusive spaces in academic libraries, an area she intends to explore while working in the MIT Libraries.
“I am so excited to join the MIT Libraries and be a part of the amazing work they are doing at MIT and beyond,” says Figueroa-Ortiz. “I believe that a university library can be a powerful platform for community engagement with an outreach that expands outside the university. With programs such as MIT Reads, the Libraries are creating opportunities for meaningful connections between the Institute, students, and the community at large.”