Racial Equity Through SFPL Communications
In this week’s blog, we learn about how Diego Barajas ’22 transitioned from being a McCarthy Fellow in Sacramento at the State Senator Nancy Skinner’s Office to a McCarthy Fellow in San Francisco at the Public Library’s Racial Equity Office. Keep reading to find out how Diego used marketing and communications to help organize tools and resources for the Racial Equity Committee during his last semester at USF.
For my last semester at USF, I was able to participate in the McCarthy Fellows in San Francisco Fall ‘22 cohort and had the opportunity to be placed with the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) Racial Equity Office. Throughout the fall semester I worked with my mentor-supervisor, the Racial Equity Manager, Naomi Jelks to collaborate on minutes for the Racial Equity Committee (REC) monthly meetings and create internal communication tools and flyers for the REC and employees at SFPL.
Prior to beginning my McCarthy Fellowship in San Francisco at SFPL, I had recently moved back to the city after spending the whole summer in Sacramento working full-time as a legislative intern for State Senator Nancy Skinner. In Senator Skinner’s office, my tasks consisted of vote tracking, organizing budget requests, and the opportunity to draft and present my own written legislation. Transitioning from one McCarthy fellowship to another made me nervous as I was going from a fast paced and hectic work environment to a much slower paced and smaller office. I was unsure if I would receive the same amount of attention or work but nonetheless I remained open-minded and ready to make new connections.
When arriving at the Main library to start my first day in-person, I was completely gobsmacked from the sheer size of the building when entering and got lost while trying to take it all in. All I knew before starting my first day was I needed to arrive at 9 am and meet on the 6th floor where my mentor-supervisor has her office. After aimlessly waiting, I met Naomi for the time in-person and she introduced me to colleagues that also worked on the 6th floor and received a tour of the whole main branch library. After my first day, all my worries were washed away as Naomi was able to make me feel comfortable and discuss what tasks she had in-mind for my work throughout the semester.
One task on top of the list for Naomi were the meeting minutes for the REC monthly meetings. I had never done meeting minutes before but Naomi was able to guide me on the format and important details to include when writing the minutes. I was able to quickly get a hang of meeting minutes and in the process understand their importance. For the REC, meeting minutes are important because it allows for the committee to keep track of what was discussed during past monthly meetings and are used to inform the rest of SFPL employees on the Racial Equity Action Plan.
As both Naomi and I wanted more of my focus on internal communications on racial equity, I created flyers with racial equity tools and worked on the REC sharepoint page. I created two different flyers, one covering the internal programs/tools the SFPL provides for all of their employees and the other with QR codes on anti-racist resources and titles that the REC has suggested for reading. The flyers served as easy-to-read guides on the ways SFPL employees can internally work together to achieve racial equity within the library. Working on the REC sharepoint page allowed me to create a webpage for REC members to access a common online space where they could find meeting minutes, agendas, REC newsletters and the flyers I worked on in a digital format. The sharepoint page had a feature for all REC members to add helpful articles and readings that would be perfect resources for SFPL employees to read on racial equity.
Overall, the SFPL offered me an experience I would’ve never been able to receive interning anywhere else in the city. I was able to strengthen my skills in marketing and communication and gain new ones in meeting minutes and website creation. Interning for the SFPL’s Racial Equity Office and working with my mentor-supervisor Naomi Jelks was one of the best ways I could’ve wrapped up my time at USF as an undergraduate.
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