SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Adilene Estrada-Huerta, bilingual outreach youth services librarian, is a winner of the I Love My Librarian Award in recognition of her work with Sacramento Public Library and especially with the Spanish-speaking community.
The American Library Association gives the award to 10 librarians from across the country every year. This year, Estrada-Huerta was chosen out of 1,865 nominees.
"I'm extremely excited," Estrada-Huerta said.
Only 130 other librarians have received this distinction since the awards were established in 2008. Winners were also given a $5,000 cash prize and a $750 donation to their library, with a virtual award ceremony taking place 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23.
"I always tell people that I didn't become a librarian for the money 'cause, you know, any public service job, you're not in it for the money," Estrada-Huerta said. "But it's definitely nice to feel recognized extra for the work that we've been doing especially in terms of the pandemic."
Sacramento Public Library went entirely online as library locations had to close for in-person services due to coronavirus. Estrada-Huerta says staff had to learn to be video editors as the library changed their entire programming.
"We basically became the BuzzFeed of the library world where all of our librarians learned how to produce, create virtual content," Estrada-Huerta said.
Sacramento librarians were also tasked with helping people navigate the public library's resources and databases now that all services were virtual. Estrada-Huerta said it was a challenging task for many parents helping teach their children at home.
"For our Spanish-speaking communities, it was even more urgent," Estrada-Huerta said. "Because most of our website was not in Spanish at the time, we had to go through and kind of show them how to navigate through that."
With many kids still distance learning, parents may be looking for Spanish-language resources and books to help get their young ones interested in reading. Estrada-Huerta's book recommendations are anything from the Lil' Libros series, Yuyi Morales's collection, and for teens, Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas.
Estrada-Huerta says for the most part, her work is focused on outreach efforts. She is like a mobile library, bringing the literature and library services directly to the public. Whether it be story time at the Mexican Consulate in Sacramento, or presenting on the library's bilingual resources at local schools, Estrada-Huerta addresses the community's needs.
"As part of my job, I actually travel to different libraries that have high Spanish-speaking communities and I'll do bilingual story times or I'll train the librarians there how to do bilingual story times," Estrada-Huerta said.
The award was also meaningful because Estrada-Huerta said she hopes it will allow people like her—Latinx, Spanish-speaking—to see more bilingual story times and programming in their library systems and be inspired.
"We're very fortunate that we live in Sacramento, where it's very diverse and we're so quick to be innovative and everything," Estrada-Huerta said.
But, she said, even in this community, it was not until three years ago and Estrada-Huerta's outreach efforts that bilingual story time became an established program for Sacramento Public Library. There's more work to be done, she said.
"I'm really hoping this award shines light into: Sacramento is diverse, Sacramento is ready to make a move, and Sacramento is just gonna get better and better," Estrada-Huerta said. "We always have so many things that we're working on, and it's been great to do that."
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