Lauren Trujillo: MLIS Student Curates Online Memorial to Honor Isla Vista Victims

Foundation director for the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation gained expertise in preserving sensitive materials through UCLA IS education, internships at local libraries and archives.

Soon-to-be MLIS graduate Lauren Trujillo has created an online archive of mourning for the victims of the Isla Vista shootings which took place near the University of California, Santa Barbara in May of 2014. Trujillo, who was then a sophomore at UCSB, lost two sorority sisters in the attack that killed six and injured many others, including another one of Trujillo’s sorority sisters, who survived.

At the time, Trujillo was serving an internship at a local Santa Barbara library when she was invited to join the Isla Vista Memorial Project, which collected and preserved the mementos that were displayed around the community in mourning and support. The ensuing exhibition, “We Remember Them: Acts of Love and Compassion in Isla Vista,” was shown at UCSB in the summer of 2015. In commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the Isla Vista attacks, Trujillo has recently released an online archive, also titled the Isla Vista Memorial Project, of these documents and items.

Trujillo earned her bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Black Studies from UC Santa Barbara. She will receive her MLIS with a a specialization in Media Archival Studies from UCLA in June. She has served internships at the Santa Barbara Mission Archive Library, IV Memorial Project, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, La Casa de la Raza, and the Self Enquiry Life Fellowship.

Trujillo has held positions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, including visitor services coordinator, museum store manager, archival assistant, library assistant, and rentals coordinator.

Trujillo says that her passion for archives began when she was a second-year undergraduate with an internship at the Santa Barbara Mission Archive Library.

“I simultaneously started helping with the Isla Vista Memorial Project and was moved by the work,” recalls Trujillo. “I then took an internship at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and experienced working with memory on a global scale. Following the internship, I knew I wanted to pursue graduate school but was not sure if I wanted to specialize in museum studies or archiving.

“During my time at SFMOMA, I really contemplated my options and started exploring various programs. I found that I was interested in all types of cultural heritage institutions and I wanted to learn the skills to assist these types of institutions with new technology and new media. UCLA was the perfect fit and was a program that I could make my own, challenge myself, and work with all types of media. Snowden Becker (UCLA MLIS Program Coordinator and IS Lecturer) played a major role in making UCLA feel like home and a space I felt I belonged.”

Trujillo says that she learned how to work with sensitive archival materials during her time at UCSB and working on the IV Memorial Project as an undergrad.

“I then carried these skills to Washington D.C. where I worked with materials related to the Holocaust and Genocide. I brought these experiences to the program and was able to inform the work I had done with articles and research. I was able to take courses with [Professors] Michelle Caswell and Sarah Roberts who understand this type of work and began to ask larger questions around the role of the archivist, memory, and self-care.”

Trujillo advises media to exercise sensitivity and caution in publicizing violence and tragedy.

“I believe the media should learn from [Christchurch], New Zealand and follow the long-established recommendations to not name the perpetrator and share their story,” says Trujillo.  “It only fuels copy cats and this idea of ‘fame.’ Only focus on the stories of those lost and share their stories at the consent of the family.

“Every community is different and I am not an expert, but the research is there on how the media can better inform communities. The media is a small part of the problem. We need common sense gun control. It is sad that high school students have done more than our government. The Parkland students are inspiring and have identified ways we can make change.

Trujillo currently works as foundation director for the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation, and has plans to bring greater visibility to her community’s library.

“The Foundation’s motto is “We Open Doors” and our public library has so much potential to open doors, grow and provide a safe accessible space that provides needed resources,” says Trujillo. “The library is more than books and I am proud to be a librarian that can help create spaces for learning and for our future leaders.”

To read an interview with Lauren Trujillo in Pacific Standard Magazine, visit this link.


Photo by Nancy Shobe