Spectrum Scholar Spotlight: Ted Farias

Ted Farias

Seventeen iSchool master’s students have been named 2023-2024 Spectrum Scholars by the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services. This "Spectrum Scholar Spotlight" series highlights the School's scholars. MSLIS student Ted Farias earned his BA in psychology from California State University of Long Beach.

Why did you decide to pursue an LIS degree? 

Over the past ten years, library staff employed in different libraries told me that it was nearly impossible and very expensive to complete an LIS degree, which made me shy away from librarianship as a career. In 2022, I was lucky enough to find a job at a public library, and three of my coworkers who are Spectrum Scholars encouraged me to research LIS programs, which led me to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Why did you choose the iSchool at Illinois?

I work with three Illinois alumni who praised this institution, and they recommended that I consider it for graduate study. They all have flourished as librarians, and I consider them to be inspirational colleagues. I researched the iSchool curriculum and MSLIS pathways, and they matched my interests and educational goals. Also, finding out that the iSchool is ranked number one by U.S. News and World Report influenced my choice. 

What particular LIS topics interest you the most?

Mostly, I am interested in public librarianship because I like to find out how accessible, useful, and beneficial public libraries are to their local communities. I want to learn about the history of libraries and what has and hasn’t worked throughout the years, so that futile history won't repeat itself. I want to learn about effective ways of promoting community engagement in libraries. I want to know more about DEI strategies and integrate them into library systems. The topics of blending in social work assistance for library patrons and using art to attract attention to libraries also highly interest me.   

What do you do outside of class? 

I currently work as a library assistant at the Billie Jean King Main Library in Long Beach, California. I am the coordinator for the Family Learning Center at this branch—a place that offers homework help, job search skills, resume building, and computer literacy assistance. For leisure, I enjoy visiting museums, creating art pieces, watching movies, tackling my TBR [to be read] list three books at a time, and satisfying my wanderlust by taking frequent mini vacations.

 What does being a Spectrum Scholar mean to you?

Even now, I am pinching myself in disbelief that I have been chosen as a Spectrum Scholar. I am honored and still processing what this means to me. I am grateful for this opportunity that will alleviate the cost of higher education. I will advocate for promoting cultural diversity and equality in and out of libraries. I am diving into conversations related to DEI topics and the fact that there aren’t enough BIPOC librarians in America. I am looking forward to networking with past and present Spectrum cohorts.  

What career plans or goals do you have?

My main goal is to become an extraordinary librarian in a public library. All my life, I have been a work shapeshifter, an employee who is quite adaptable and welcomes challenging work environments. I consider myself a lifelong learner who, like Alice, gets "curiouser and curiouser" as time goes by. I want to get to know the communities near the library and learn to identify their needs. I want to offer the resources and services that the public requires. I will promote cultural programming suitable for all. I want to make libraries more accessible and efficient for all who seek knowledge as well as those who do not know how to find knowledge at public libraries.