Elizabeth Lisa Cruces was the Librarian-in-Residence at the Hesburgh Libraries at the University of Notre Dame from July 2012 – July 2014. She now works as the Hispanic Collections Archivist at the University of Houston Libraries.
Tell me a little bit about your background. Where did you attend college? What degrees do you have? What programs (undergraduate or graduate) prepared you for your current position? Tell me about your position and what you do?
I’m first generation Mexican-American born and raised in Texas. I make a point to mention Texas because it is such a huge part of my identity and my interest in Latinx studies and history. Growing up in Texas and seeing the beautiful diversity of our communities fostered a deep passion for heritage studies and the power of public history. Long story short, after graduating from Texas State University-San Marcos with BAs in Latin American Studies and History, I enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to entering graduate school at UT-Austin, I strategically explored work in museums, archives, and libraries through internships, volunteering, and mentoring with the goal of having a thorough understanding of the career field I was aspiring to enter. I’m thankful that I did! By the time I graduated from UT with my MS in Information Studies in 2012, I was very much committed to pursuing archives and had a solid understanding of what I did and didn’t want to do.
What caught your interest about the residency that you were a part of?
My primary motivation for applying for the 2012-2014 librarian residency at the University of Notre Dame was the opportunity to work under supervision of a great role model of mine, Latin Americanist, David Dressing. Formerly of Tulane’s prestigious Latin American library, David was an early professional role model for me, as well as one of the first individuals I met in the greater archives community. Additionally, the residency offered to opportunity to work at an institution in the process of change: new dean, building renovations, as well as a reexamination of library services.
Before you became a resident, what were you thinking about doing professionally or academically?
Prior to becoming a resident, I planned on either looking for a permanent entry level job at an archive in my home state or possibly pursuing a second masters. Prior to my residency, my ambitions were much more modest.
How was the residency or job application process for you?
It was pretty great! The Career Services division of UT-Austin’s School of Information, my advisor, and my core group of graduate school friends made all the difference. Each in their own way aided me in finding opportunities, expanding my job search, and helping me prep for the academic review process. I definitely would not have felt as confident and prepared without their generous support.
Do you have any comments or advice for current residents?
Don’t limit yourself and seize opportunity! Having been trained as an archivist, I didn’t initially see myself as the right fit for a library residency, but I was happily surprised that my host organization was responsive and supportive of helping me carve out my own path. In short, take chances and be open to where they might lead.
How are you becoming or staying involved with the wider profession?
I am 4 years post-residency and I can confidently say that I have thrown myself into service, both archival and library professional organizations. I’ve had the privilege to serve on a variety of local, regional, and national organizations such as RBMS, SAA, ARLIS/NA, and ACRL. There’s no doubt that the residency experience gave me more confidence and a head start in getting my foot in the door.