2011 Eureka! Fellow Carissa Purnell
Currently I am the Youth & Technology Coordinator, Librarian II for the Salinas Public Library System and a doctoral student in Education at San Francisco State University researching the role and impact of community agencies, including libraries, in the academic performance and success of underrepresented youth. I do and have done everything from creating and maintaining the library’s website, to teaching seminars to teens about the political implications in the lyrics of hiphop icon Jay-Z. While technology duties occupy a portion of my time, the most critical task I give my time and heart to is the coordination of culturally relevant and civically engaging programs for youth in our community. From “Know Your Rights” Sessions in partnership with immigrants rights coalitions to learning indigenous Nahuatl and discovering Latino roots through art exploration, I believe in libraries as democratic distributors of knowledge and resources to empower our community youth to believe in themselves, their language, their culture, their potential and their futures.
I began my library career in the California State Library’s Preservation Department, and have transitioned through Stanford University’s Engineering Library, and UC Berkeley’s Ethnic Studies Library Native Studies Department. I served as a page with the Santa Cruz Public Library throughout my undergraduate career at UCSC and spent a portion of my graduate career at SJSU with the Palo Alto Children’s Library. However, despite my work in the libraries of the bay, it was my time in Hayward in the Community Organizing field working to provide equitable access to education, housing and affordable healthcare in disadvantaged communities that molded my professional philosophy and changed the priorities I believed the library as an institution needed to embrace.
At 26 years old I hope Eureka will allow me to network with veterans of librarianship who have been pursuing the pathways of transforming a profession in need of a 21st century revamp and reflection on our true role as community agents of change and providers of knowledge. I hope I will develop the tools to successfully implement change, and meet other revolutionary librarians who believe in the forward progress of communities with libraries at the foundation.