Scholar Spotlight: Maggie Shawcross (2009) in Conversation with the Spectrum Advisory Committee

Luisa Leija Headshot

The Spectrum Scholarship Program actively recruits and provides scholarships to American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern and North African, and/or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students to assist them with obtaining a graduate degree and leadership positions within the profession and ALA. Spectrum Scholarship Alumni are part of what makes this program successful -- we are thrilled to highlight Maggie Shawcross (2009 Scholar) to talk about the Scholarship, as well as current work. This interview was conducted via email with Spectrum Advisory Co-Chairs, Kay P Maye, and Ramon Garcia in February 2024.

What area(s) of librarianship have you worked in thus far?

While in library school, I worked as a consumer health librarian. I would consider that a special library area as I was a solo librarian working at a hospital with community members who wanted more information on recent diagnoses or health concerns. After that I moved into public librarianship. I worked there doing adult programming (I LOVE adults) and focused a lot of my work there in providing health programming and Spanish language programming. Then, I moved into academic librarianship. I was initially hired to be a subject specialist focusing on health librarianship, but my library has since moved to a service model, and I am currently working as a Teaching and Learning Librarian.

What are some current projects that you're really excited about right now?

Though not as common in academic libraries, the rise in book and program bans/censorship impact all of us - especially marginalized communities. I presented with a school librarian and a former public librarian to educate librarians on what they can do to support other librarians facing censorship/bans as well as knowing their rights when upholding intellectual freedom. We hope to write a paper based on our presentation.

What has the Spectrum community provided you in the years since you've graduated library school?

I could never put a price on all that Spectrum has provided me since graduating library school - priceless! There is an automatic recognition in the library field as to what Spectrum is - employers, other librarians recognize that being a Spectrum Scholar means that you are a part of a movement to bring diversity and positive change to the library profession. I would also like to promote the ACRL Dr. E.J. Josey Spectrum Scholar Mentor Program. This program is only available to Spectrum Scholars. Fourteen years ago, I was connected to my mentor, Yu-Lan Chou (Santa Clara City Library) and have made a lifelong connection. Yu-Lan has shared her knowledge with me, provided me with career advice and friendship. Priceless!

How do you carry that sense of camaraderie and connection forward to others in the LIS profession?

I value so much what Spectrum has given me - the money for school, the connections to other librarians of color, my mentor - and I strive to pay it forward every day. I am happy to talk to anyone interested about the library profession (the good and the bad). I also choose to research and present on topics that help promote diversity and inclusion in the library field.

Working in libraries can sometimes take us far from home. What are some favorite regional foods that you look forward to getting if you ever return for visits? Alternately, what are some favorite dishes that you discovered along the way?

I am very lucky to live and work in my hometown. I'm also happy that my community is getting more and more diverse each day (this wasn’t the case when I first moved here 30 years ago). Growing up we ate so many beans and, I thought I would never say this, but for me nothing beats a bowl of frijoles de la olla (pinto beans cooked in a pot essentially) with cotija cheese and a side of corn tortillas. I should really learn how to cook them, but my mom’s beans are the best.