Anna Lisa Raya Rivera Anna former magazine editor…

Anna Lisa Raya Rivera (Anna) — former magazine editor and Columbia journalism school grad, current Rutgers library and info sci grad student, and future conference roommate of mine — got to know each other a bit over the phone yesterday.

BiblioNews seems to be a perfect fit for Anna, as it brings together her past, present and future — after graduation, she hopes to advance information literacy, especially in underserved communities, through designing products such as search engines. She’s also intrigued by how actively conference goers get to participate in determining what’s going to happen next week. This will be good for her, because she’s a highly collaborative, open source-adocating, go-getting doer.

Anna’s journalism background, and especially her deep experience with fact checking (One of Anna’s previous jobs was editing at “People.” Can you imagine how difficult it must be to substantiate the material that gets published in “People”? And at how fast it’d have to get done, too!), are serving her well now in her new career. She expected everything she touched in print to be absolutely true and perfectly written. Now, she wonders how untrained people know how to wade through the flood of information out there on the Internet to find the good stuff. And she gets great satisfaction from helping with these searches.

I come to the library-journalism connection from a different perspective. My experience with libraries is only as a user, a user who’s always loved libraries — bc I love reading, and old books, and also because I love that we live in a country where people can borrow books for free, basically on the honor system that they’ll return them.

In my work as a journalist, my colleagues and I have, for years, thought of libraries as one of the perfect places to recruit new news sources. We believe everyone has knowledge and expertise that could inform news coverage, and we try to get more people involved in our news process through the Public Insight Network (http://www.publicinsightnetwork.org) — over 100,000 people across the nation who have agreed to let us ask them questions about topics we’re reporting on.

We know library patrons are diverse (in all ways), and have admired the strong relationships libraries have built with their communities and users. So we’ve wanted to work with librarians to find ways to offer patrons a voice in the media. I couldn’t ask for a better conference than this one for inspiration.

It’s a bit difficult to summarize our conversation because Anna and I discussed many things, a bunch that didn’t relate to the BiblioNews — like that her high school was near my grandmother’s apartment in LA. But the standout quote is easy: “I’m kind of a hardcore Latina.”

And Anna’s conclusion from her example of where she’s observed journalism and libraries coming together will stay with me because it’s one of the core beliefs behind my team’s work: So many people have stories, but we won’t know them without asking.