MS/LIS student Anthony Martínez presented his research at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Division IV webinar, Projects in the Libraries - Ideas, Innovations, Initiatives, which was held on May 26. The goal of the webinar series is to provide a place for LIS students to share their projects, research, and ideas about different topics related to libraries.
Martínez, who is a trustee at the Tompkins County Public Library in Ithaca, New York, discussed his proposal, Porch Stories, a storytime partnership between the library and Ithaca's African American community. According to Martínez, gentrification has forced many members of the community far from the city's core where the library is located, leading to a lack of African American children in the library’s programming.
"I propose that instead of finding some way to make them come to us, we go to them," he said. "Since we don't have a bookmobile, we have to get creative."
In 2007, Ithaca held its first Porchfest, in which local musicians performed on the front porches of homes for all to enjoy. Porch Stories builds on this concept but substitutes storytimes for music performances.
"Storytimes can at first be led by librarians but very quickly should transition to being led by local residents and prominent figures in Ithaca's African American community. The stories would be focused on Black joy and Black triumph," said Martínez. "I like to think of Porch Stories as an opportunity for the library to invest long term in the power and significance of Black folks reading Black books to Black children in Black spaces."
Martínez holds a BS in business administration and marketing from Idaho State University. He is a 2020-2021 ALA Spectrum Scholar and member of the New York Library Association's Pathways to Librarianship Taskforce. His presentation on Porch Stories was originally created for the iSchool course Community Engagement (IS 590) taught by Adjunct Assistant Professor Ellen Knutson. When not in class, Martínez works for public radio station WBEZ in Chicago.