What a pleasure to introduce the 2013 Día Dynamo, and the new chair of the Mora Award, Lupita Vega, Principal Librarian, Youth Services Santa Ana Public Library (CA). Both Lupita, and the amazing former chair, Beatriz Pascual Wallace, Children’s Librarian at Seattle Public Library, South Park Branch, are REFORMA members who served as Mora Award committee members before generously agreeing to serve as Chairs. In such a professional manner, Beatriz created structures to help this rotating committee serve more effectively.
I’m deeply grateful to Beatriz for the cheerful manner in which she worked with me and the committee and for agreeing to guide Lupita and me as well as serving as liaison between me, the committee, and REFORMA’s busy president. Bravo, Beatriz!Lupita, tell us about yourself and your work as a librarian and your interest in Dia?
I was raised in Santa Ana, CA where I currently live and work. Santa Ana is my home and helping my community members gain the knowledge they need to grow as individuals is part of my commitment. I have worked for the Santa Ana Public Library for fourteen years. I was hired as a Tutor and with time I became interested in Librarianship. I have always had a love for serving my community but I quickly learned that as a Librarian, I could make a difference in the lives of the children and parents that visited the library. Currently, I am the Principal Librarian for the Youth Services division where I manage the Children’s Libraries and the Learning Centers. Our mission as the Youth Services department is to provide quality service that meets the needs of our community and Día is one of the programs that meet the needs of those we serve.
During one of my family vacations down to Zacatecas, Mexico, I experienced a Día de los niños celebration. Children were celebrated and were handed treats by the adults. A piñata was broken and the smiles on the children’s faces were PRICELESS. That is when I learned the cultural importance of Día de los niños. It was the following year in 2009 when I organized and implemented Santa Ana Public Library’s First Annual Día de los niños/Día de los libros celebration. Since 2009, it has been my interest to celebrate children and promote literacy among the community.
What are the challenges of serving on the committee?
Those of us serving on the committee were selected as members because of our dedication and commitment to Día. When we read the applications and see that people are celebrating Día with programs that promote literacy and celebrate children and cultures, the judging process of selecting only one winner becomes a challenge. It is exciting to see all the hard work and dedication that people throughout the nation are doing and putting into their Día celebrations. Every single celebration is exemplary in its own way but we must narrow it down to one. What was exciting for all of us last year was that for the first time, we awarded three Mora Honor Awards for their admirable celebrations to: Mt. Pleasant, part of DC Public Library, Sacramento Public Library, and King County Library System (WA).
In past years, libraries and educational institutions could apply. Why has eligibility been extended to informal educational institutions such as Boys and Girls Clubs, children’s museums, and community organizations?
One of the Mora Award goals is to increase Día’s and REFORMA’s visibility. To help meet these goals, we made the decision last year of opening eligibility to educational institutions and this year to youth-serving organizations. We believe in not setting limits but rather to allow Día to grow throughout the nation. The greater the number of Día celebrations there are, the greater the number of children being linked to books, languages, and cultures.
What’s your Dia dream?
My dream is that one day everyone throughout the nation will become familiar with Día and view Día as an irresistible celebration that will connect every child throughout our nation to books, languages, and cultures. Furthermore, that one day Día will be viewed as a family literacy initiative that is essential to bringing families and community members together. Día programming attracts new families, builds stronger communities, and helps libraries become an attractive community destination. I ask for the help of everyone who is currently a Día advocate to reach out to others within their city, their state, and their nation to spread the message and spread the knowledge of Día.