Five Questions with Ximena Valdivia (Florida International University)

Photo of Ximena Valdivia, showing a sweetly smiling Latina woman in blue patterned blouse wearing a lanyard.
Ximena Valdivia

1) Tell us about your work in your library?

In June 2020, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, I started working for the Florida International University (FIU) Libraries as a Cataloging and Metadata Librarian with an emphasis on Special Collections materials. My work involves providing descriptive cataloging and metadata, subject analysis for physical and digital resources, and classification for a variety of resources such as rare books, serials, sound recordings, moving images, cartographic materials, archival collections, pamphlets, manuscripts, posters, and other materials documenting a wide array of research areas, such as history, politics, race, ethnicity, and gender from all Latin America with a greater focus on the Caribbean region.

2) What attracted you to this role?

In my role, I see great opportunities to contribute to the needs of students, faculty, and the extended community. Providing bibliographic control for collections is essential as it enhances the visibility and accessibility of library resources, facilitating access to unique research resources. Describing materials gives a voice to the collected works and holds the potential to revolutionize the services and information our library offers to the community. Additionally, creating metadata for special collections materials and making them digitally accessible ensures widespread availability for on-campus users and researchers globally.

Catalogers and metadata librarians play a critical role in accurately representing the diverse backgrounds that modern libraries serve. One of my ongoing objectives is to incorporate inclusive and reflective descriptions of social justice in establishing criteria for material selection, the description process, and envisioning access and services. FIU gives me the chance and the tools to achieve that goal.

Finally, FIU is recognized as a Great College to Work For, and that is not just a slogan. Besides the benefits and other earthly things we need in our lives, FIU provides opportunities to grow as a professional and scholar and engage in a diverse and inclusive environment. To me, that is important.


3) How have you been involved with ASERL?

I think everything started with some ASERL training sessions, primarily focusing on DEI, which is one of my greatest interests. Then in 2023 there was the Risky Business Conference organized by the Special Collections Interest Group, which even though I could not attend I heard wonderful news about the discussions that took place. So, when I received an email regarding a Service Opportunity/Call for Volunteers, I eagerly volunteered for the Special Collections Group. I felt confident that I could make a positive contribution.


4) What parts of your job/volunteering with ASERL do you find most rewarding?

Volunteering with the Special Collection Interest group aligns with my area of interest, and I believe that by participating in the group, I can positively contribute to the profession and the community we serve. Additionally, I appreciate the opportunity to exchange ideas and interests with my colleagues, who possess more knowledge and experience than I do. Our discussions are consistently constructive, productive, and efficiently timed.


5) What’s one great thing that most people don’t know about you?

I am from Chile. I love dancing. And I used to be a stilt walker in my younger years, dressed as a court jester, and participated in parades and festivals for fun. I tried to learn to ride a unicycle, but I gave up. It was not for me.