Meet the 2011 Mora Award Winners

I’m so pleased that the contact personnel at the two 2011 Mora Award winning libraries agreed to a blog interview. First we’ll hear from Sylvia Cisneros, Senior Librarian, Youth Services at the Santa Ana Public Library (CA.)

1. How did you first become interested in Día and how long ago was that?
SC: I had the privilege to live in Mexico for eleven years, between the ages of one and twelve. During that time, I learned and lived everything about the Mexican community like never imagined. Día de los Niños has been one of the most important celebrations within my family and the Mexican community. Schools, businesses and large organizations close every year on this day to dedicate it to the children in Mexico. This was not an exemption in our small town, called El Granjenal in the state of Michoacan. This celebration stayed with me all my life, and therefore, when I started conducting Spanish storytime in 2002, I always had the desire to incorporate Día as part of my themes. It wasn’t until 2007 that I decided to celebrate, and without knowing that Día already existed within libraries, I created my own program. It was a simple program, with games, stories, and cupcakes for the kids.

Sylvia’s school

2. When did you begin to plan your 2011 celebration? Did you work with a team and who created the team?
SC: Our planning for our 2011 celebration began in November of 2010. This was going to be our 3rd year celebration and we knew we wanted to have a greater celebration than what we had in our previous years, therefore Lupita Vega (Youth Services Principal Librarian) and I, decided that we were going to have all the youth services staff involved in the project.

Sylvia and her team
Top row, L to R: Michelle Loera, Linda Hanks, Lupita Vega, Olga Gallardo, Rose Navarro
Bottom row, L to R: Elvia Hernandez, Sylvia Cisneros, Kevin Le

3. What do you think made your 2011 celebration special?
SC: The enthusiasm from our team members and the community was great, and this made the entire planning process and the event itself to come out as expected. The invited authors, book sale, and special performances made this celebration especial!

4. How do you and your library feel about winning the Mora Award?
SC: Día has become our most attended event in our library and therefore the most important. Winning the Mora Award is very satisfying; it brings us joy! Most important it lets us know in that we are doing a wonderful job promoting literacy, cultures and celebrating children all at the same time.

5. What did you learn from your celebration this year?

SC: I have learned that Día can really bring families together and that it can be an event that not only promotes the importance of reading but that it informs our community on different services that they probably are not aware of and from which they can benefit from.

6. What three key pieces of advice would you give to those ready to plan their first Día celebration in spring 2012? Advice to those who have celebrated before?
SC: For those libraries that will be planning their first Día, my advice would be:

1) Start planning and promoting early 2) Always work with a team 3) Don’t be afraid to go big and ask organizations for help.

For those who have celebrated before, my advice is to continue with the celebration, and to find ways of making their event larger and better each year.

7. Do you think of yourself as creative?
SC: I believe everyone is creative. As we start imagining, ideas come out. When I plan any events, I think of originality, and look for alternatives and possibilities, but I always think about the audience we will be serving in the program. I focus on the words FUN and EDUCATIONAL and proceed from there.

8. Why are Día and sharing bookjoy important to you?
SC: Día is very important for me and the staff here at Santa Ana because we are not only celebrating with the community an event that they respect and believe in but because we incorporate and make it stronger by promoting the joy of books. We try to promote the pleasure of reading, the outcomes of a good reader, and the importance of sharing books as a family.

My name is Emily Ziglinski and I am the Latino Liaison for the Springfield Public Library (OR.) I have been working in libraries for about 8 years and with the Latino community for over 20. Being a librarian is the best job in the world. I am soooo lucky to do what I do.

1. How did you first become interested in Día and how long ago was that?
EZ: My first library job was with Multnomah Public Library in Portland, Oregon. I was hired as a bilingual clerk and worked at the St Johns branch. I started working for MCL in 2003, the year after they had won the Mora Award. We had a wonderful bilingual Library Assistant who was in charge of organizing our Día event. I learned a lot from her in how she involved our community and really made it a neighborhood celebration. My contribution to the event was helping with the table activities, which were literacy based. My experience helping with and observing the Día events at MCL during my three years working there, definitely helped me be prepared for organizing the event here at Springfield Public Library.

2. When did you begin to plan your 2011 celebration? Did you work with a team and who created the team?
EZ: I had a small, but dedicated team for our Día event; our wonderful library volunteer, Faviola Arceo Garcia and the Latino Liaison for the Girl Scouts in our area, Martha Morales, and myself. We started working on ideas in January. I have already had community members and organizations asking to be involved for Día 2012!

3. What do you think made your 2011 celebration special?  EZ: Community involvement

4. How do you and your library feel about winning the Mora Award?
EZ: We are ecstatic! We are pleased as a smaller library to be recognized for our work reflecting and embracing our entire community. The monetary award also triples our program budget for Día, for this we are VERY thankful.

5. What did you learn from your celebration this year?
EZ: I need to schedule more people to help with clean-up! This is true, but seriously, I think that the thing I learned most from Día this year is that once you have your base program plan in place, it is easy for the event to generate excitement and grow on its own. This was my second year planning Día for SPL and so I had a general idea of what the day would look like. I could then concentrate my energy on bringing more people to the table. With each person that gets involved more energy and ideas are generated. It becomes organic – growing and blooming with only a little care. It is fun to watch and to be a part of.

6. What three key pieces of advice would you give to those ready to plan their first Día celebration in spring 2012? Advice to those who have celebrated before?
EZ: First Día – 1) Know your community: who will come, who can help, what languages and cultures do you need to consider when planning, etc. 2) Give away books in the different languages of your community if you can. We did not have enough for every child, but we had a raffle. Kids were so excited to have a new book. I think it also helps tie the whole day together – a fun day dedicated to BOOKJOY! 3) Take good notes to build on your base for the future.

To those who have celebrated before: One of the goals of Día is promoting literacy, be open minded about what can be considered a literacy-based activity. Some parents have a low literacy level, so including crafts & activities that they can participate in with their children is important. For example we had a piñata making workshop as part of our celebration. Parents and children talked about designs and parents shared stories with their children. These narratives are a part of literacy.

7. Do you think of yourself as creative? EZ: Yes, but not when talking about myself. (smile)

8. Why are Día and sharing bookjoy important to you?
EZ: I believe in the power of knowledge and the power of community, I guess that is why I became a public librarian. Día and bookjoy are really about embracing these two concepts. Plus, Día is about celebrating children, and programming for children is one aspect I love about my job.


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