LPI Welcomes Library Assistant Mercedes Garcia
August 7, 2020
The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) recently welcomed a new library assistant, Mercedes Garcia. Ms. Garcia has a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology, Health, and Society, and is currently working toward a Master of Library Science (MLS) at Texas Woman’s University. With a variety of work experiences and skills, she will be an excellent addition to the LPI. She most recently worked for the Harris County Public Health Agency, and previously taught ESL math and science and served as a summer-school librarian in the Galena Park ISD. During her undergraduate studies at Cornell University, she served as a student program organizer for first-year students. Read LPI’s interview with Mercedes Garcia to learn more.
LPI: How did you become interested in library science, and when did you know that you wanted to pursue that as a career?
MG: I have had a very roundabout journey to library science. I would say the first spark occurred in high school. My volleyball coach nicknamed me “Barbara Bush” because I always had a book in hand, and bringing my reading light on bus trips to away games did not help to change my reputation. Jokes aside, she was the first to say she envisioned me becoming a librarian, and the idea stuck with me.
After teaching elementary school for a few years, I jumped at the opportunity to become a health inspector for Harris County Public Health. Helping teach food service workers about food safety made me realize that I missed education. I turned to library science to fulfill my passion for teaching and promoting equitable access to information.
LPI: Did you have a mentor or another person in your life who was influential to your decision/career?
MG: Most definitely! I was hired as a fourth-grade math and science teacher at the elementary school I attended from K-5. My childhood school librarian, Ms. B, was still there after all those years and quickly took me under her wing. She was my greatest advocate and always pushed me to go back to school for my MLS. She played an important role in exposing me to the depths of librarianship and continues to be a great source of support and knowledge. Thank you, Ms. B!
LPI: What do you like most about working in education and libraries?
MG: Working in education has given me a great sense of pride and purpose. The pursuit of scientific discovery is very noble, and I feel honored that I can support those responsible for advancing humanity.
LPI: What do you find is the biggest misconception the public has about libraries, and how do you think we can change this?
MG: Great question! Libraries have long been thought of as book warehouses, and librarians portrayed as stuffy individuals who shush and deliver steely looks to patrons. The most vital resource the library offers is its librarians. With their wealth of knowledge and passion for seeking information, librarians work hard to help find answers. When my family and friends learned I was pursuing library science, their first thought was to ask why I needed a master’s degree to shelve books. That really drove home the idea that most people aren’t aware of the myriad of resources available to them through libraries. We can help to change this perception by increasing public awareness of our mission and available resources through marketing and outreach.
LPI: How can we all increase our scientific literacy? What’s the best way to support science and education in our families and our communities?
MG: With the overwhelming amount of information we consume daily, it can be difficult to discern what is and isn’t credible in a moment’s notice. With the staggering amount of disinformation circulating, having scientific literacy is more important than ever. In order to promote science and education, it is crucial to show that the scientific community is open and actively striving to make connections with the communities they serve in order to build a foundation of trust and fellowship.
LPI: What kind of hobbies or interests do you have outside of work?
MG: I love to crochet. My grandmother taught me before she passed away, so it’s my way of keeping her craft alive. She always stuck to making delicate doilies and lace, but I prefer amigurumi (stuffed toys). Once I finish my MLS program, I hope to have enough free time to start crocheting again! My husband and I are owned by three mischievous cats who help me work by flopping on my keyboard at the most inopportune times. I also enjoy gardening and travelling.