A Jaguar in the Library. The Story of the First Chicana Librarian. By Elizabeth Irene Martinez. ISBN 13: 978-0-915745-44-9. Library of Congress Control Number: 2020941157. 6"x9", B&W on cream paper, 150 pgs.


 

It is heart-felt cogitation of a sincere Latina library administrator who dedicated her professional life to providing services to the Hispanic population, wherever she served. On her quest, she encounters the very profound, individual, and structural face of discrimination and the debasing effects of denial of information and library services to Latinos and minorities—let them pay taxes, but don’t let in the library! On June 26, 2020, about 144 years after its founding, The American Library Association (ALA), very likely forced by the unprecedented racial demonstrations in the streets of America, has issued a declaration of responsibility: "ALA takes responsibility for past racism, pledges a more equitable association."

It is a riveting personal and intimate story of the professional trajectory of Elizabeth Martinez.  She took the librarians’ publicly articulated commitment to serve and provide information and library services to all, very seriously. She risked many times her career and high-level administrative positions to expand those services to Latinos, and minorities, the underserved populations. She experienced the anguishes and the blisses, the obstructions and visions, the raw insults and inspiring moments, and, most of all, her hard work fueled by her profound professional commitment to serving the minority populations. This book is an inspirational as well as a didactic tale of what happens to a capable minority female administrator when she means business and becomes a change agent refusing to accept the discriminatory pattern of public and library services. 

 

 


Elizabeth Martinez served as Orange County Library Director, The City of Los Angeles Library Director, Executive Director of the American Library Association, Director of the City Salinas Public Library.

This book comes as a revelation of the racism and hostilities she endured during her successful professional life. This tome comes at an appropriate time when bigotry, racial discrimination, and inequities in public services have driven to exasperation victimized minorities and people of good conscience. When the wounds of racial divisions, lack of services, and conflict in American institutions—often very well hidden to this day in American libraries—have come opened and bleed shame, discontent, anger, if not remorse, sorrow, and regret.