Doctoral Student Pedro Reynosos

Pedro Reynosos When reflecting about my experiences in Dr. Norkunas' graduate courses and the Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE)/Interpreting the Texas Past Project (ITP), I think of research in action, an undertaking that required the marriage between academic training and sensitivity to cultural contexts. ITP, and the Intellectual Entrepreneurship philosophy and initiative of which it is a part, involves research activities in and outside the classroom, a public pedagogy, which according to critical theorist, Henry A. Giroux, transforms us into "border crossers." As a "border crosser" acting beyond the traditionally perceived boundaries of my research program, culture, and social location, I learned to be an "intellectual entrepreneur" in harmony with both theory and practice; classroom and community; and rigorous academic methods and commonsense.

For example, the oral history project I conducted, as a class project and as part of ITP, documents the life history of Mr. Clifton Griffin, whose 25 years as a public librarian in East Austin, Texas, contributed to the City's cultural past. The project's extensive narrative analysis, reflexivity, and collaboration with Mr. Griffin rendered a life story characterized by the successful union between public librarianship and community activism. The interpretive materials and programs (e.g., transcripts, audio-recordings, and conference presentations) produced by this oral history project seek to improve the public's understanding of Texas past, but most importantly, the often untold stories of African-Americans like Mr. Griffin's. His life story adds to a larger public librarianship narrative of socio-cultural and political agency, which is part of American library historiography. Moreover, the documentation, interpretation, and presentation of Mr. Griffin's core competencies provide a benchmark for current and future public librarians who are interested in combining public librarianship and community activism as part of their professional skills set.

Recently, Mr. Griffin and I had the opportunity to present the project at the first ever Joint Conference of Librarians of Color held in Dallas, Texas (October 11-15, 2006). The paper provided my analysis of Mr. Griffin's narrative, particularly in terms of how it informs library practices as well as curriculum. After presenting the paper, Mr. Griffin joined me for the Q&A session, and I can honestly say that it was probably the most enlightening part of the session. We had an engaged audience asking follow-up questions, and sharing their own personal stories from practice. It was stimulating and rewarding to know that our work had struck a cord among practitioners and future librarians. After the presentation, two current library students came up to me and said they were inspired by Mr. Griffin's life story, and thanked me for offering a theoretical framework and language to conduct similar projects. A few practicing librarians of color were very appreciative for articulating their professional struggles and triumphs through the voice of Mr. Griffin. This experience reminded me of the power of praxis-interaction between theory and practice-and the need to support more projects that are both community-based and interdisciplinary in nature like IE/ITP.