REFORMA LA Member Spotlight: Dr. Michele A. L. Villagran


Name: Dr. Michele A. L. Villagran

Title: Assistant Professor, San José State University, School of Information

Primary service roles: Dr. Villagran is an Assistant Professor with the San José State University (SJSU) iSchool. Her research focuses on diversity and social justice in library and information science and cultural intelligence phenomena within libraries. She currently teaches INFO 200, Information Communities. Dr. Villagran also serves as CEO of CulturalCo, LLC consulting in areas of cultural competency, diversity & inclusion, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence.

How does your work align with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities?: At SJSU, Dr. Villagran is the iSchool’s REFORMA liaison. In this role, she shares and communicates programs, events, scholarships, and other activities of REFORMA and its chapters with our school to share with students and alumni. This fall, she will be developing an SJSU iSchool REFORMA student group for current SJSU students and alumni that are REFORMA members to help continue to foster and assist Spanish-speaking communities. As an educator, many of her students and alumni are interested in serving the diverse needs of these communities. Assignments have been focused on examining these information communities’ information seeking-behaviors within INFO 200. Additionally, her research aligns with service to Latinx because of the breadth of cultural diversity that she focuses on.

Gratifying aspects of your work: One of the most gratifying aspects is teaching and getting to know her students, even in an online environment as the Masters program is 100% online. Being able to help and support those from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds, and to see them progress through their educational journey and beyond is very rewarding. She has often had students contact her after a course or after graduation to thank her for inspiration and support, and stays connected with many alumni to follow their careers. Another gratifying aspect of her work is giving back in a service capacity to the organizations that have helped her get to where she is today.

Some words of advice to other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students: Advice to other librarians: Continue to foster a community of support and engagement for our present and future students. Offer opportunities for professional development. Stay engaged with your associations and an active contributor to the profession.

Advice to present and future MLIS students: Start connecting early with informal and formal mentors that can offer guidance throughout your program. Take a variety of courses that will prepare you for the job you want in the future, not the current job you have today. Challenge yourself to be the best you can be in your program and soak up as much knowledge as you can.

Previous programs that I have done: For a full list of Dr. Villagran’s activities, keynotes, speaking engagements, publishing, consulting and other activities, please see her CV. Her focus has primarily been around areas of diversity & inclusion, emotional intelligence, legal issues, leadership, cultural intelligence, and conflict management.

Introducing the REFORMA Webinar Series!

The REFORMA Webinar Series is composed of 30-minute scripted training sessions for information professionals in which protocols, best practices, and introductory objectives are negotiated and discussed. The webinars aim to teach both REFORMA members and librarians in general new skills and uncover best practices. They are designed to present an opportunity for the LA chapter to highlight the myriad areas of expertise that our members and allies represent.

Facilitators tailor webinars to suit their needs, and are encouraged to present their topic creatively but cogently so that it might provide guidance.

The webinars are free for REFORMA members and $15 for non-members. They aim to expand your repertoire, feed your head, and show you the cheat codes on how to effectively program, implement, and engage Latino communities in the U.S.

To learn more about the webinars, or to register for upcoming ones, please visit

REFORMA LA Member Spotlight: Dora Ho


Name: Dora Ho

Title: Young Adult Librarian/Program Specialist, Youth Services, Los Angeles Public Library

Primary service roles: I am the Young Adult Librarian/Program Specialist in Youth Services of the Los Angeles Public Library. My role is quite unique because I focus on system-wide programs that serve youth. I oversee the Student Zones (after-school homework centers), Student Smart Program (college preparation), program boxes (literally a program in a box that include instructions on how to implement the program, supplies, and resources/bibliography), and I also assist on many Youth Services initiatives.

How does your work align with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities?: The Student Zones (after-school homework centers) serve students from ages 5 to 18 and many of the locations are in dominant Spanish-speaking neighborhoods.

Gratifying aspects of your work: My work involves working with all levels of librarians (branch managers, young adult librarians, children’s librarians), outside vendors, as well as other community partners. Training others is a major part of my job as well. I love to empower our Student Zones Helpers in assisting our youth with their homework assignments and provide librarians with the right resources and tools to perform their daily duty.

Some words of advice to other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students: For librarians, it is very important to build a network of support. Whether you are the one being mentored or mentoring someone, mentoring is needed at any stage of our career. Please try to find someone to mentor or get someone to mentor you! You will find the experience valuable and rewarding.

Previous programs that I have done: In my early career as the Young Adult Librarian at a local branch, I created many programs for my Teen Council/Teen Advisory Board. We had games such as Jeopardy, trivia baseball, cupcake decorating, soap making, T-shirt decorating, and making sock puppets and friendship bracelets. I have also presented programs on multicultural programming such as a K-Pop program. At many conferences, I’ve spoken on the topics of leadership development and how to get involved in ALA governance.

REFORMA LA Member Spotlight: Diane Olivo-Posner


Name: Diane Olivo-Posner

Title: Principal Librarian/Associate Director | Exploration and Creativity Department, Los Angeles Public Library

MLIS Program: San José State University School of Information

Primary service roles: In my role as Principal Librarian for the Exploration and Creativity Department, I oversee and work with the other librarians in my department to coordinate the Los Angeles Public Library’s Summer Reading Challenge, which includes Summer Lunch, Dodgers Foundation Partnership, and Your Author Series; LAPL’s STEAM Initiative, which includes various STEAM programs as well as DTLA Mini Maker Faire and Citizen Science (Neighborhood Science); Explore LA, the partnership between Los Angeles Public Library and local cultural institutions; and LA Made, a cultural series featuring free music, dance, theater, and conversations with local entertainers at libraries throughout the City.

How does your work align with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities?: I am constantly advocating to make sure Latinas/os/xs are represented in all the programming my department is responsible for through Spanish materials, photos, social media, presenters, and resources. I strive to make sure the programs and materials are welcoming and inclusive to the patrons of Los Angeles. During my time as a Children’s Librarian, I conducted bilingual storytimes and did bilingual outreach for Children’s Services. I also feel I was a welcoming face to patrons coming to the reference desk, and my ability to speak Spanish was definitely an added bonus. My goal in the future is to continue expanding out STEAM services in Spanish and to offer more programs that will connect with the Latino community.

Gratifying aspects of your work: I work with a great team that makes all these programs and initiatives happen in our 73 locations. I am proud to say I have a diverse department that represents the many communities of Los Angeles, as well as who I am. I am able to be a part of innovative programs that connect the public with the library's new resources and programs, as well as develop partnerships with Los Angeles organizations and groups. Also important to note: I started my career working for Time magazine as a reporter then realized the library world was my true calling and worked as a Library Assistant for USC Law Library. I had an internship at South Pasadena Public Library, where I was lucky enough to work with the Children's Librarian Maida Wong. After receiving my Masters from San Jose State I started working at Children's Literature for LAPL, and I also worked as a Branch Manager for Long Beach Public Library and substitute librarian for Cal State Long Beach. All these experiences truly made me fall more in love with being a librarian. Now. even though I predominately work in a coordinating office, I love still being able to visit and help branches whenever they need it, and I advocate my staff to do that as well. Being a frontline librarian for so many years is something that helps me understand the challenges faced day to day.

Some words of advice to other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students: Find your role models, people you can trust with professional and personal matters, and then give back. I encourage students to surround themselves with people from diverse professions and backgrounds because we can all learn from each other and this is how new ideas and partnerships are formed. Creating your professional family and honoring your own family is what makes a person strong. As I was brought up to say, "Here is to Familia." Always look at the whole picture and be true to yourself and your beliefs. Remembering that when you fail, you need to own it and learn from it and get back to making a difference. Challenge the imposter syndrome. Do not let anyone short-change who you are. Be prepared to advocate for yourself and the community. And always, always keep a sense of humor.

Previous programs that I have done: As mentioned above, I have conducted bilingual storytimes, children’s programming, Learn and Play for children and their families, and trained the volunteers for the STAR Volunteer program, which brings adults to read to children at the library. Being a Puppeteer Master while working in Children’s Literature at Central Library in Downtown still brings a smile to my face. Paco and the Witch was one of my favorite puppet shows to help perform. Most recently, helping to coordinate our DTLA Mini Maker Faire, where over 8,000 attended, strengthens my belief that Librarians and Libraries are all Most Excellent!!

Congratulations Scholarship Awardees!


REFORMA LA Member Spotlight: Dinorah Pinelo


Name: Dinorah Pinelo

Title: Catalog Manager, Los Angeles Public Library 

MLIS program: San José State University School of Information

Primary service roles: In my role as Catalog Manager, I am part of a team of librarians and support staff in charge of the providing and maintaining bibliographic access to the library’s collection, which contains over 6.5 million items and includes materials actively collected in over 30 languages. I also serve on the LAPL Spanish Translation Team, which provides Spanish language translations for library programs, LAPL website pages, and promotional materials.

How does your work align with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities?: The Los Angeles Public Library has a collection of over 350,000 items in Spanish and my department is responsible for creating catalog records (many original) in Spanish to make those items easily findable for library patrons. 

Gratifying aspects of your work: It is wonderful to be a part of making our large collection of Spanish language materials for children, young adults, and adults easily findable for patrons through Spanish catalog records and working with enthusiastic, dedicated, and creative colleges who are also passionate about serving the Spanish-speaking community. 

Some words of advice to other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students: I’ve found that once you identify a need that is not being meet, it gets easier to generate ideas and unite with others around how to meet those needs and transform communities.

Previous programs that I have done: I’ve had the great pleasure of contributing to bilingual storytimes; bilingual STEAM programs; book selections at international Spanish-language book fairs including FIL Guadalajara, LIBER Barcelona, and FIL Buenos Aires as part of LAPL's Sister Libraries relationship; mentor for LAPL’s Diversity and Inclusion Apprenticeship program; Los Angeles Mexican Consulate Juana Inés de la Cruz salon de lectura renovation/weeding project; blogs and twitter promotion in Spanish of Spanish language library resources; and book list contributor REFORMA newsletter. 

REFORMA LA Member Spotlight: Lupita Pérez Leyva


Name: Lupita Pérez Leyva

Title: Senior Librarian, Robert Louis Stevenson Branch Library (LAPL)

MLIS program: UCLA's Master of Library & Information Science Program

Primary service roles: I am the branch manager, and I am in charge of programming and collection development for adults in both English and Spanish. However, when I have a vacancy, I also fill in as either a Young Adult or Children's librarian. 

How does your work align with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities?: Our branch is located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. Boyle Heights used to be a very multicultural neighborhood at the beginning of the 20th century, but it is now over 94% Latinx. Our community spans the entire linguistic spectrum from Spanish monolingual (high percentage) to Spanish-preferent to bilingual to English-preferent to English monolingual, but it skews toward the Spanish speaking. I am blessed to use both languages every single day at my branch, and I work with many community non-profits to provide Spanish-language programming for our community. Our branch collection is over 40% Spanish, so I do lots of collection development in Spanish. And lots and lots of outreach in Spanish! I've also been on live TV (Univisión, Telemundo, and Channel 22) talking about the Los Angeles Public Library and promoting library services in general (one time I wore a Lorax mustache on live TV, and another time I wore a Dr. Seuss hat on live TV), and I've been interviewed for Spanish-language radio and La Opinión (LA's legendary Spanish-language newspaper). Also, I'm very pleased to be one of the members of the Los Angeles Public Library's Spanish Translation Team. Not only does our team strive to provide linguistically correct and culturally relevant translations for the entire LAPL system, but we also advocate for providing services, programming and outreach in Spanish throughout the LAPL system.  

Gratifying aspects of your work: Ayudar a mi gente a que aprovechen de tantos servicios que ofrecemos que les pueden beneficiar. Proveer servicios bibliotecarios a mi comunidad en su idioma. Uno de mis servicios favoritos son las clases de ciudadanía en español (para personas que califican para tomar el examen de naturalización en español). Tengo fotos de varias personas que se han hecho ciudadanos gracias a los servicios de nuestra biblioteca para inspirar a otras personas de la comunidad para que también se hagan ciudadanos. Es algo muy significativo para mí, pues mis papás también se hicieron ciudadanos cuando vivían en Boyle Heights gracias a la ayuda que recibieron de las organizaciones comunitarias.   

Some words of advice to other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students: Follow your passion. Find the place where work doesn't feel like work, but like a calling, because when those tough times/people happen (and they will), you will know your purpose, and you won't be derailed. 

Previous programs that I have done: I do a lot of programs with the help of community organizations. In the past, I've had citizenship classes (presented by Catholic Charities, CARECEN), renters' rights workshops (presented by LA Center for Law and Justice), nutrition classes (presented by Esperanza Community Housing), movie nights, mental health workshops (provided by the LA County Department of Mental Health), the UCLA Mobile Eye Clinic (provides free eye exams and glasses), staged play readings (presented by Center Theatre Group), and many, many more that I can't remember. But, I always try to provide programming in both languages. For example, the play readings are in both, but they alternate each month.  

REFORMA LA Member Spotlight: Sabrina Ponce


Name: Sabrina Ponce

Title: Part-time Librarian (Redondo Beach Public Library) & Page Shelver (Peninsula Center Library)

MLIS program: University of California Los Angeles

Primary service roles: I received my MLIS in June and am just starting to become an active member with REFORMA LA by joining the Spanish Language Book Fair planning committee.  

How does your work align with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities?: I interned with the Young Readers Department at Peninsula Center Library from April-June of this year and as part of my internship I planned and performed a storytime. Many caregivers who take children to storytimes at Peninsula Center are primarily Spanish-speaking and are teaching the children Spanish, so I made my storytime bilingual. I also initiated a passive program for staff in which participating staff members wear buttons to indicate other languages they can speak. I was inspired to do this because I noticed that patrons whom I knew spoke Spanish struggled to ask for assistance in English because they didn't know that someone was available to help them in Spanish.   

Gratifying aspects of your work: Some of the patrons who attended my storytime at Peninsula Center have shared with me that they enjoyed it and that they hope the library will continue to incorporate Spanish songs in their storytimes. It's gratifying to know that several patrons not only benefited from a library program, but also feel comfortable enough to voice their needs in their primary language. I will continue to work to create this positive environment for patrons at both Peninsula Center Library and Redondo Beach Public Library.    

Some words of advice to other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students: Being a recent MLIS student myself, I urge current and future students to get involved with professional organizations as early as they can. Also, apply for the jobs you want as much and as early as you can - the hiring process may take longer than you think and you may actually be qualified for a position you feel you don't have enough experience for. It's never a bad thing to put yourself out there! 

Previous programs that I have done: Senior Social Hour, bilingual storytime. 

REFORMA LA Member Spotlight: Edwin Rodarte

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Name: Edwin Rodarte

Title:  Senior Librarian, Emerging Technologies & Collections

MLIS program: San Jose State University

Primary service roles: I am the current Reforma Los Angeles Chapter president as well as the Technology Chair for National Reforma. Overall, my role is to support the local chapter in leading Reforma's efforts to engage our community, diversify our library profession, and create opportunities for networking/support among current librarians.

How does your work align with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities?: Part of my job requires piloting new projects and technologies at libraries. As such, I ensure that all documentation and marketing for the use of the devices/programs are bilingual and can reach a new audience. I also serve in our library's Spanish Language Committee which is in charge of translating all web content, flyers, and other Spanish Language communication in our library system in order to standardize and market under one message. Lastly, I participate in CLA's Latino Services Interest Group as a co-chair to bring programming to help librarians serve their Latino and Spanish-speaking populations. 

Gratifying aspects of your work: Working with colleagues that are passionate about services to Latinos and ensuring that our communication efforts are bilingual. Leveraging partnerships and projects to ensure that services or technology is available to communities that may not otherwise have access to them.

Some words of advice to other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students: Don't be afraid to take risks - you have to be willing to try new things, disrupt and innovate. Librarianship is a moldable career and you can make of it what you want, immerse your energy and passion into what you already love doing, and chances are you will end with a job you love. 

Previous programs that I have done: Hotspot lending program, veteran stand down (fairs), Spanish language computer classes, children's citizenship ceremonies, and immigrant integration efforts.

REFORMA LA Member Spotlight: Ziba Perez Zehdar


Name: Ziba Perez Zehdar

Title:  Young Adult Librarian

MLIS program: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Primary service roles: I serve the Reforma LA chapter by snapping pictures and posting to the Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter of our #REFORMALA meet-ups, meetings, & socials.

How does your work align with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities?: I'm a bilingual YA Librarian for the Baldwin Hills Branch and I serve the Spanish-speaking community by making space for bilingual zines and bilingual zine workshops as well as events such as Lotería night and presentations for Latino Heritage month by Professor Gloria Arjona.

Gratifying aspects of your work: Speaking with families and providing volunteer opportunities to teens that need work experience.

Some words of advice to other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students: Keep it up, never give up, never lose sight of why you do your work, the patrons in the community you serve!

Previous programs that I have done: Learn to DJ with #DJZibaZ! Sewing Rebellion workshops, learn to sew at the library! #ArtBlockZine workshop hosted by #DSTLArts for bilingual teen zine making to add to the #LAPLZineLibrary! 

REFORMA LA Member Spotlight: Concepcion Flores (aka Connie)

Name: Concepcion Flores (aka Connie)
Title: Children's Librarian
MLIS program: SJSU
Primary service roles: children's services which include(story time, outreach, programming), weeding, purchasing materials for children, scheduling library class visits, etc.

How does your work align with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities?
I work in a city that is mostly Spanish speaking and I am assigned to purchase Spanish children's materials, story time, outreach, etc. Although I am mainly a children's librarian and deal more with children, I am always helping Spanish adult speakers to get information from getting directions, contacting a company or getting facts. 

Gratifying aspects of your work:
I love it when children tell me that they miss me when they don't see me (when they don't see me for storytime). Let's me know I am making a difference. It's also great to get little notes from them that say they love the library. It's also fun for me to be silly and be one of the kids.

Some words of advice to other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students:
For those who are librarians, thanks for sharing ideas! It's always great to hear and see what other libraries do. For those who are ready to jump in the field, don't be afraid to ask questions. We learn to know what to do. For those who are still in school, look for ways to volunteer or start a part time job. You learn more when you do the work rather than write about it.

I am currently working on Batman Day for tomorrow. It will be for ages 5-10. A craft and activities will be the in effect.  Am also working on Stranger Things Party -coming in Dec. 2016.

Previous programs that I have done: 
(At Santa Monica) STEAM story time for preschoolers and their parent/caretaker, kids crafts, bilingual storytime, kids gardening, kids yoga.

I started my librarian skills at Whittier Public Library with the Children's Department back in 2007. But started working in 2001, as a page.

REFORMA LA Member Spotlight: Dr. Romelia Salinas

Dr. Romelia Salinas

Name: Dr. Romelia Salinas
Title: Associate Dean, Library & Learning Resources, Mt. San Antonio College
MLIS and PhD program: UCLA

Primary service roles:

I recently became the Associate Dean of Library and Learning Resources at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt SAC). In this position I oversee the College Library, tutoring services, the computer learning lab and the Online Learning Support Center which supports the integration of technology into teaching. Prior to coming to Mt. SAC I had been a librarian at California State University, Los Angeles for 18 years. During that time there I served as a reference and instruction librarian for various academic departments and campus centers/programs. I also served as Head of Access services for five years overseeing the Circulation, Reserves, Inter-Library Loan and Stacks. During my last three years I was the Reference Services Coordinator. A highlight of my work there was the establishment of the East Los Angeles Archive dedicated to preserving the social and political history of that community.

How does your work align with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities?

My service to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking communities is reflected in my reference and instruction work, my collection development activities and my campus involvement. Cal State LA and Mt. SAC are campuses with a predominantly Latino student body, so I interact and assist this population on a daily basis. At Cal State LA I served as the Latin American Studies and Chicano/a Studies Librarian. I worked closely with faculty in these disciplines and often was invited to provide library instruction introducing students to library resources useful for researching these academic areas. I would also meet individually with students from any department who were researching Latino communities and direct them to relevant sources to consult. Through this work I was supporting the research of these communities as well as success of our students.

I believe that information institutions, such as libraries, are transformative spaces where students can learn about themselves through alternative perspectives and in turn empower themselves.  In this spirit I have dedicated my work to building collections and information services that reflect the diversity of our student body and our local community.  Poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “When someone with the authority of a teacher describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked into a mirror and saw nothing.” Her words speak to the importance of students seeing themselves in our libraries. It is through establishing collections that document and include the voices of marginalized communities that academic libraries can support the success and well-being of our students. To this end I have worked to ensure that print and digital information about underrepresented communities, like Latinos, is available and accessible in our library. This included establishing the East Los Angeles Archive at Cal State LA as well as my work as a founding member of the Latino Digital Archive Group, a group that seeks to establish a national forum to explore the establishment of a Latino digital archive that would have as its goal the digital preservation of all aspects of U.S. Latino history.

In addition to working with students directly and building relevant collections, I also serve the Latino community through my campus outreach. Over the years I have worked with outreach and retention programs such as the Educational Opportunity Program, the Go East LA initiative, the Dreamer Center, and the Parents Academy which primarily works with Spanish-speaking parents of incoming students.

Gratifying aspects of your work:

The most gratifying aspect of my work is having the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students. Whether it is providing students access to information they needed to complete their MA thesis or teaching them how to email their professors.

Some words of advice to other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students:

I would encourage future librarians to be resourceful and persistent in their work. When encountering obstacles in moving your ideas forward, always look for other avenues. Be creative in your services and don’t limit yourself to the confines of what and how your library has done things in the past. Small actions can lead to big changes.

REFORMA LA Awards Luncheon Recap


REFORMA LA would like to extend our gratitude to our wonderful generous supporters whose participation made possible a fantastic Awards Luncheon celebration on June 5, 2016 from 1-3 p.m. at the East Los Angeles Public Library.

New Mexico State Library Commissioner and former Executive Director American Library Association Elizabeth Martinez, gave an inspiring keynote address to our 2016 Elizabeth Martinez and Dr. Karin Duran scholarship winners and Luncheon attendees. Our Chapter was delighted to award our 2016 scholarship winners Anita-Marie E. Martinez, Janet Garcia, and Jimmy Zavala each with $1000 dollars and a certificate of recognition.

Día de los Niños Mini-Grant winner, Dr. Romelia Salinas gave us a recap of her Dia community program held at California State University, Los Angeles on April 29, which was inspired by this year’s Newbery Medal winning book Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, with illustrations by Christian Robinson.

We also congratulated Anna U’Ren, our  ALA Student Travel Grant awardee, as well as our past REFORMA LA Chapter secretary and in-coming Public Information Officer, Juan Guillermo Garcia who was awarded the prestigious Spectrum Scholarship Award for 2016-2017. Our graduating MLIS students included Sylvia Aguiñaga, whose organization DIY Girls empowers girls by teaching coding and applying science, tech, engineering, and math (STEM) skills in creative ways is making big waves in library innovation.

Oralia Garza de Cortes, co-founder of the Pura Belpre Award, also spoke about the outreach advocacy work she is doing with REFORMA’s Children in Crisis Project. She encourage us all to get involved in the project, and described how La Librería, a bookstore in Los Angeles that specializes in Spanish language children’s books, recently held a storytime fundraiser to benefit the Children in Crisis Project.

Sonia Bautista also shared about the library outreach project she is coordinating with the Salvadoran Consulate. Named La Biblioteca Prudencia Ayala de el Consulado de El Salvador, the project was created to serve the children and families that visit el Conulado de El Salvador. Read more about the project in this month’s REFORMA LA’s Newsletter. HERE PLEASE LINK TO SONIA’S PIECE.

The REFORMA Los Angeles Chapter also extended a warm and enthusiastic welcome to J. Carlos Rodriguez. Carlos is now the University Library Dean, at California State University Los Angeles.  Welcome to Los Angeles Carlos! We are happy you’re here.

Please remember that the REFORMA Los Angeles Chapter raises funds year around to support our annual Elizabeth Martinez and Dr. Karin Durán MLIS graduate scholarships. Help us make this another successful year! If you would like to donate to our 2017 scholarship fund, please send checks made payable to:

REFORMA Los Angeles, c/o Madeline Peña
16211 Downey Ave., Unit 131
Paramount, CA 90723

REFORMA LA & Consulado de El Salvador Library Partnership

Photo of Consulate Library

Early in the year, the Salvadoran Consulate approached Senior Librarian, Sonia Bautista with the idea of opening up a library inside the consulate. Ms. Bautista knew a couple of staff members from the consulate since she had previously held an author program at Commerce library in conjunction with the Consulate. She mentioned REFORMA LA to the Consulate and how REFORMA could help out too.

REFORMA LA Vice-President Celia Avila and Sonia visited the Consulate in early April and evaluated the future library space along with books they already had donated. Sonia collected books for the Consulate and also gave them a list of furniture and shelving that would be adequate for the space. Two weeks before the grand opening, Sonia and her family visited the library to help decorate, clean and label books, drop-off more Spanish and English children and adult books and help with labeling. Celia also visited the Consulate to help them in last minute preparations for the grand opening.

The grand opening of the Biblioteca Prudencia Ayala de el Consulado de El Salvador was held on Friday, May 27th and Sonia was there to represent REFORMA LA. The library was named after writer, activist and female rights advocate, Prudencia Ayala.  The event was very well attended with over 120 guests, including consulates from other countries, folklore dancers, musicians.  Sonia was invited to partake in the ribbon cutting ceremony alongside other volunteers, and the Salvadoran consulate María Mercedes López.

The library will be volunteer run. The Consulate hopes to have volunteers each day to keep the library open as many days as possible. They are also accepting book donations for children and adults in both Spanish and English. If you wish to donate your time or books, please email

ALA Student Travel Grant Recipient

REFORMA Los Angeles is pleased to congratulate  Anna U’Ren as the winner of the 2016 ALA Student Travel Grant.  This $250 student travel grant award was created to help offset the cost of attending the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, FL and REFORMA's Denim and Diamonds yearly gala event scheduled to take place at ALA Annual. Congratulations Anna U’Ren!

Learn a little more about Anna.


Hello, my name is Anna U’Ren and I am a student in my second year of SJSU’s MLIS program. I live in San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, CA. I work as a pharmacy technician and my husband Sam works for Mission San Juan Capistrano, and we have two kids: Emmett, age 5, and Eleanor, age 2. I live in a wonderful community that is very much a small town. I have built many close relationships with my pharmacy customers (some of which are my neighbors) and take pride in helping them navigate our often frustrating healthcare system, but I feel that a career as a librarian would be more personally fulfilling and enable me to better support my family. I have been unable to attend any library conferences thus far because they have been too cost prohibitive.

The professors in the MLIS program at San Jose State do a great job at providing a rich online learning experience, although I must admit that I sometimes feel isolated as a student working alone at home.

At this moment, I am working on a group blog project for my Materials for Children class on “white privilege”. When you fully begin to explore this topic (speaking as a white person) you start to realize how pervasive it is in our society, and how glaring the lack of diversity is, especially in children’s literature. As a mother, I’ve never had to search and search for one single book that has characters that look like my children, with stories that they can relate to. Children need books that consist of characters and stories that represent their own experience. I think librarians have a critical role to play in this area. I recently read an article for one of my classes written by Roberto Haro titled “Literature in Defining a Culture: The Chicano/Latino Experience”. Haro made me think of librarians in a totally different way, and this comment really stuck with me:

“There were times in American history when librarians were the only professionals aware of Hispanics and Raza. These professionals dedicated themselves to capture the ideas, images and symbols Chicano/Latino writers used to describe and define who they were, and their unique experience in America. Librarians are largely unrecognized heroes, responsible for preserving the many threads in society that weave into our national tapestry.”

It was exciting for me to think that librarians could have active and dynamic roles within their communities. When I started library school, I had an outdated idea about libraries, thinking that, because I like books, librarianship would be a great profession to enter. Now I know that libraries today are so much more than warehouses for books, and that each library is unique because each community it serves is unique. I would love to attend the ALA conference in Orlando this year, if only just to talk to anyone and everyone, and ask lots and lots of questions. I want to meet people and see the exhibits and presentations, and attend the SJSU iSchool reception so that I can connect with people from my school in person and not just through a computer screen. And I want to learn more about REFORMA, because meeting the objectives of this organization would positively impact many in my own community. That, and my professor Dr. Bernier also says that the REFORMA Gala is always a good time.

Reforma LA Member Spotlight: Sylvia Aguiñaga

Sylvia Aguiñaga
MLIS Graduate student - San Jose State University
Director of Curriculum - DIY Girls

Primary service roles:

I develop programming and curriculum for DIY Girls, an organization dedicated to empowering girls by teaching and applying science, tech, engineering, and math (STEM) skills in creative ways. I also teach electronics projects and create resources for parents and kids to encourage learning at home.

How does your work align with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities?

Every day, I work to empower Latino youth to see technology as a tool to express yourself. I’m especially interested in how we can make the “learn to code” initiative more accessible to the Spanish-speaking community--specifically parents so that they can support their kids at home.

Knowing how to code can connect a kid to a world of imagination and give her or him the ability to express their personality while learning critical and computational thinking skills needed for future jobs.  It can inspire a teenager, full of big ideas and idealism, to take the skills gained from learning to code and create real products that can have real impact. As an adult, knowing how to code can mean getting a raise or gaining more job opportunity because of your new skill set. It can empower the Latino community because it helps traditional barriers to achievement disappear.

Gratifying aspects of your work:

I love to see parents engage in the making process with our girls. It reminds me of when I would build model planes with my dad as a kid. I know how precious those experiences are for us, so seeing it happen in front of me is the best. It’s especially cool because our girls confidently share their engineering knowledge, and their parents help them create something special.

Seeing confidence build is my main motivator. When attitudes shift from, “I can’t do this.” to “How can I do this?”, ideas turn into products, and a girl yells, “I did it!” — I know we’re doing something right.

Some words of advice to other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students ...

It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. This goes for librarians, but it also relates to kids as well. Some librarians feel pressured to take on STEM programming even though it isn’t necessarily their passion. Don’t do something you don’t like doing. There are plenty of STEM enthusiasts out there. Stick to what you love because when you do what you love, you do it well. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be open to how tech fits into what you love doing. :) I’m sure you’ll make some sort of connection.

Some personal interest that informs your service

I like to make things. From building my own music machines to writing silly stories about lizards. Making something that is so clearly “me” feels good. It’s something I want to encourage others to pursue because when you do, you become more “you”.

Elizabeth Martinez & Dr. Karin Duran Scholarship Winners

REFORMA Los Angeles is pleased to announce the winners of this year's Elizabeth Martinez and Dr. Karin Duran scholarships.

Congratulations to future librarians Janet Garcia, Anita-Marie E. Martinez, and Jimmy Zavala!

Please save the date for the REFORMA LA Awards Luncheon which will be held on June 5, 2016 from 1-3pm at the East Los Angeles Public Library. We look forward to celebrating our scholarship winners at this event.

Elizabeth Martinez Scholarship Award Winners:




Janet Garcia

Graduate School of Information Science at UCLA





Anita-Marie E. Martinez

iSchool at San Jose State University




Dr. Karin Duran Scholarship Award Winner:



Jimmy Zavala

Graduate School of Information Science at UCLA





The scholarship selection committee would like to thank all the wonderful MLIS graduate students who applied to our awards this year. We look forward to another year of strong fundraising efforts. Please support us and GIVE TODAY!

The Elizabeth Martinez and Dr. Karin Duran Scholarships Awards are a focal point project for REFORMA Los Angeles Chapter. One-hundred percent of funds raised for this project are awarded to graduate students in pursuit of a Master of Library & Information Science (M.L.I.S.) degree. Please help us raise more funds to support the academic persistence of our many wonderful and talented library school students.

We are a 501(c)3 organization. Please mail donations with checks payable to:

REFORMA Los Angeles c/o Madeline Peña
16211 Downey Ave., Unit 131
Paramount, CA 90723

REFORMA LA Member Spotlight: Yago Cura

Yago Cura

Yago Cura

Name, title, and institution
Yago Cura, Adult Services Librarian, Vernon branch (#04)

Primary service roles.
I help organize literacy, health, and financial programming for the members of the Vernon-Central community; I help to manage the social network accounts associated with our branch, and I ensure that there are enough resources in Spanish for our patrons, 85% of whom speak Spanish as their first language.

Aligning library service to Latinos and our Spanish-speaking communities.
I have worked in several communities that were this Spanish-language dominant, but I have never worked in a community where I got to ensure there were enough Spanish language materials. I feel very fortunate to be able to do this, and feel doubly fortunate that REFORMA is a big part of that work (in terms of help from colleagues and peers, etc.). The Vernon branch collaborates with Catholic Charities to provide the space for Citizenship Classes in our community room every Wednesday; that's the same day that I teach a Computer Comfort class, which most of the time ends up being given in Spanish (I am bilingual) because of the preferences of the students that end up coming.

Most gratifying and enjoyable aspects of your library role.
In March of 2016, Carla Osorio, one of the members of Casa Solidaria del Sur facilitated a presentation: Mujeres Que Publican!, to celebrate their recent publication, Los Hilos Que Tejen, a book that celebrates women that have immigrated to the U.S. from Latin America. This program not only educated and empowered women in the Central-Vernon neighborhood, it also showed them how to follow suit and become "tellers" of their own narratives.

We have a Community Yoga Class every Monday from 6-7:30 that I really enjoy because our instructor facilitates the class in English and Spanish, simultaneously. Vernon-Central used to be a predominantly African-American neighborhood, and now it is predominantly Central American, so finding an instructor that could teach the class in English and Spanish was very important to us. The instructor, Leo Miramontes, has been very generous to us, and was recommended by Casa Solidaria del Sur, a community space and performance center on Central Ave. and 41st

Words of advice for other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students.
Come out from behind your computers, come out of your shells, get your hands dirty with projects that require zero down, ask patrons for help to entice them into programming, fulfill your jedi destiny of being a community protector and healer, an information shaman, someone those in need of help will come blocks to see, listen more than talk, and if you are going into public libraries, remember, the affluent libraries have high circ rates and are generally safer (not always), but the libraries in under-serviced areas are always going to need you more and provide you with more chances for innovation because there is less scrutiny and numbers/figures thrown at you for justification. The public libraries in under-serviced areas are the laboratories young librarians are seeking if only they can overcome snags in budgeting, logistics, and administrative enthusiasm.

Personal interest that informs your service.
From 1999 to 2002, I went to graduate school for creative writing, where I attended the program for Poets & Writers at UMASS-Amherst. I was afforded the opportunity to attend school there through a diversity fellowship and was lucky enough to study with Martin Espada, Tomas Salamun, and Peter Gizzi; I also got the chance to geek out on the trove of Latin American literature housed in the DuBois Library, a 24-story library tower in the middle of western Massachusetts farmland. After library school, ten years later, I learned some html and decided to publish an online journal called, Hinchas de Poesia ( We are currently working on issue #17 and have published a slew of people way above our paygrade, poets like Luis Rodriguez, Campbell McGrath, and Norman Dubie, We don't sell advertising and the only thing we care about is publishing excellent writing from the Américas, norte y sur. One of the students I attended the Poets & Writers program with was James Foley; we struck up a fifteen year friendship that was cut short when Foley was murdered by ISIS in August of 2014. In March of 2015, I successfully funded a kickstarter to publish an anthology of ghazals for him, and in February of 2016 we began distribution of our first print publication, Ghazals for Foley ( ISBN: 978-0-9845398-7-1): 5.3 ozs and 76 pages, to boot! I have been working diligently to place them in libraries and bookstores, and sell them online, All proceeds that I garner from sales of the book are going to be donated back to the James W. Foley Legacy Fund.


Día de Los Niños / Día de Los Libros Mini-Grant

El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day), commonly known as Día, is a celebration of children, families, and reading that culminates yearly on April 30.

REFORMA Los Angeles is happy to announce a $250 grant opportunity to support the celebration of this nationally recognized literacy initiative which emphasizes the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Application and guidelines.


Reforma LA Member Spotlight: Mara Cabrera

Mara Cabrera
Librarian I – Teen Services
Santa Monica Public Library

Primary service roles
I work as the teen librarian for the Pico and the Fairview Branches. My primary role includes the development and implementation of programming for teens at both branches. I am also in charge of maintaining the teen collection for the branches, making sure that it stays relevant to the needs of the community. Moreover, because the Pico Branch is part of the Virginia Avenue Park (VAP) Campus, I collaborate closely with the VAP Teen Center in developing programming and conducting outreach within the community.

How work aligns with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities
The Pico Neighborhood is the most diverse area within the City of Santa Monica and a large amount of residents are Spanish-speakers. At the Pico Branch in particular, we work towards providing library and information services - including programming - in Spanish. We provide Spanish services on a daily basis. The community has access to a Spanish collection for all ages. For teens in particular, we are currently providing college-planning workshops, in collaboration with the VAP. We make sure that most of these workshops are provided in English and Spanish and we also address issues and concerns that are specific to the Latino community (and to other communities of color), as well as the immigrant and undocumented communities when applying to college.  

Gratifying aspects of your work
I love my job and I think every single aspect is extremely gratifying. However, helping patrons find the information they need and seeing the community get together and enjoying our programs are the two most gratifying aspects. In particular to teens – I enjoy seeing when they get interested in new things and topics thanks to a library program or thanks to book recommendations we give them.

Words of advice for other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students
Be open minded to new ideas. This is one of the most important things right now (in my opinion). I know everyone keep saying “libraries are changing”… but it’s true! Librarians need to adapt to the new roles libraries are playing in society. In my view, libraries are still the “place where you get books” like some of my teens like to say. However… libraries are way more than that. Libraries can serve as places of discovery where patrons are exposed to new topics, subjects and technologies. Libraries can serve as places of cultural exchange, where diverse communities come together to celebrate and embrace their differences.

Some personal interest that informs your service
One of my personal interests that currently inform my service is technology and promoting STEM within my teen patrons. STEM fields are lacking diversity and I think libraries can help close the gap by providing exposure to new technologies to folks that wouldn’t be exposed otherwise.