Our Speakers | United in Diversity

NICANOR DIAZ | American Library Association/REFORMA Vice-President

My name is Nicanor Diaz and I’m the Immigrant Services Manager at the Denver Public Library. I have worked in libraries since 2005, including a 6 month practicum at the Argentinean National Library in Buenos Aires. I have been involved with Reforma since 2007 as a member and in 2022 I’ll be the President of REFORMA National which is the national association that promotes library and information services to Latinos and Spanish speakers.

Over the past several years I have dedicated myself to serving our Spanish Speaking community. My work in REFORMA National has spanned over 5 years, 4 as the Central Chapter representative helping chapters in Colorado, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and working as the Vice President and President of the association. During this time I have been able to advocate for our Spanish speaking community through professional development opportunities, developing training, and participating in various ALA committees and subcommittees to ensure that REFORMA has a voice.

At the Denver Public Library I have had the pleasure of working with a small team in our Cultural Inclusivity Department where we work to provide services to immigrants. Our most notable program is called the Plaza program and is an intergenerational program that connects families with language conversation tables, arts and crafts, homework help, legal help and anything else our participants might need help with. Additionally, with the help of Nadia Rendon, we have created a Spanish Customer Experience team at DPL to look closely at the gaps in services and programs for our Spanish speaking community and what are the best ways to fill those.

The start of my passions for this work is due to my childhood experiences growing up in Washington as the child of immigrants. I often had to serve as a translator for my mother in our community. I was 8 or 9 years old at the time, and didn’t realize the burden that I undertook to allow my mother to communicate with the bank, or the DMV or even the library. I also didn’t realize the strain it put on my mother or how ostracising it was for her to not be fluent in English. After I started working in libraries in 2005 I realized how difficult it is for families like mine. Children who come to the library should be able to enjoy the library and not have to worry about being a translator for their parents. Parents should be able to access all information available to them at a library without having their children serve as their translator. I noticed quickly what a huge relief it was for a parent when they would approach me and look at their child and begin by saying “Preguntale si… “ I would look at the parent and simply say with a smile: “¿En qué puedo ayudarle?” Their faces always illuminate when they realize that language isn’t going to be a barrier to accessing the information they need. That’s the way it should be. I would like to be able to further this work with the Central Region Chapters to see how we can continually improve the services libraries provide to our most underserved customers.

TWANNA HODGE | Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Librarian at the University of Florida

Twanna Hodge (she/her) is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Librarian at the University of Florida Libraries. She holds an MLIS from the University of Washington. Her research and professional interests include diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility issues and efforts in the workplace and LIS curriculum, library residencies and fellowships, cultural humility, and the retention of underrepresented and BIPOC library staff in librarianship. She is the National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL) XI Conference Programming Committee co-chair, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) 2021 Scholarship Committee, co-chair, and more. She is a 2013 Spectrum Scholar and 2018 ALA Emerging Leader.

CAROLE LINDSTROM | Caldecott Medalist Author of We Are Water Protectors

Carole Lindstrom is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of We Are Water Protectors, Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle and other forthcoming books for young readers. She is Anishinaabe/Metis and a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians. She was born and raised in Nebraska and currently makes her home in Maryland. We Are Water Protectors, a picture book inspired by Standing Rock, and all Indigenous Peoples fighting for clean water, is the winner of the 2021 Caldecott Medal, the first book written and illustrated by a Native author to receive this prestigious award. Carole has spoken to both children and adult audiences on topics ranging from environmental justice to the importance of Native Representation in Children’s Books.

JANE SANDBERG | Author of Ethical Questions in Name Authority Control

Jane Sandberg is the Electronic Resources Librarian at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, Oregon. Jane brought together library scholars from the U.S., Canada, Israel, and Iran for a 2019 book called Ethical Questions in Name Authority Control. This edited volume studies how library catalogs represent personal and place names, and offers ways forward that honor people’s privacy, autonomy, and history. Outside of cataloging, Jane is interested in queer studies, transgender studies, open source software, and open pedagogy.

PATTY WONG | Santa Monica Public Library Director & American Library Association President

Patricia “Patty” Wong is currently President-Elect for the American Library Association, and will become President in June 2021.  Wong is the City Librarian for the Santa Monica Public Library, in service since March 2017. In her 34-year career she has held positions throughout CA at Yolo County Library, Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library, Oakland Public Library and Berkeley Public Library, and Oakland Unified School District and has been a bookseller during her student life.  Her work in managing change, equity and diversity, youth development, developing joint ventures and collaborations between public libraries and community agencies, and fundraising has been published in a number of journals, conference proceedings and edited collections.  

Ms. Wong has worked as a school librarian, children’s librarian, cataloger, and special librarian as well as her leadership roles in public libraries. She provides continuing education for practitioners at national and regional conferences. Patty has been an active leader within the American Library Association for 35 years. She is a Library Journal Mover and Shaker, recipient of the ALA Equality Award (2012), Faculty of the Year, and Woman of the Year in her voting district.  In addition to her role as board member for a number of nonprofit institutions, Ms. Wong is also adjunct faculty for the iSchool at San Jose State University where she has taught hundreds of students since 2004 to serve young people and write grants to benefit local and regional communities and make the world a better place.