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CLA Elections 2017 - Angela Ocana
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Angela Ocana, Santa Clara City Library


Candidate Statement

In your statement, describe a little about yourself, why you are running and what your vision is for CLA and libraries. We will be sharing your questionnaires with voters as well. Please get this to me by August 30.

People stare at me a little strangely when I say the words “AWESOME BLOSSOM!”, but I love those words. They make me seem super peppy and optimistic, even though I would not call myself that. It’s just that I think it is okay to be a little silly and not always take myself so seriously.  I feel the same way about libraries. I have lived my whole life connected to them  and have witnessed and supported their ability to provide meaningful programs that help shape lives and provide resources for the community.  On the flip side, there is just as much importance placed on singing silly songs and getting pelted by shaving cream balloons. Isn’t that cool?

I think libraries should be a place for everyone in the community:  including the homeless, loud teenagers, and children with those squeaky shoes. My vision for libraries in general is the same one I strive for everyday at my own my library: I want to ensure that we are collecting materials for a multicultural, diverse community, providing programs that help job seekers, help children with early literacy, work on STEM initiatives, and give adults the freedom to craft and paint. Let’s not forget about helping teenagers prep for college, while at the same time making sure they don’t burn their fingertips at a cooking class or soldering EL wire, prep them for their first job while at the same time building a fabulous, relevant manga collection. Plus, don’t forget to market yourself to your shareholders, post to social media, and build community partnerships.  There are so many things we want to do and so little time to do them. Isn’t that always the challenge?

Just like you, I try to manage all of these things, so why would I want to add being on the CLA board?! I have a lot of ideas to add and tons of gumption. I take my work very seriously while trying not taking myself too seriously. Year after year, the California Library Association has provided me with an outlet to share new experiences with peers, meet new librarians, and learn about trends within our profession. I want to help provide the structure and guidance that makes CLA possible.  I hope that by working for you on the CLA board, I can bring my levity, hard work, and passion, and be the embodiment of everything I feel libraries are and represent in our communities.

Thank you. Good day. Awesome blossom.



  1. How do you define leadership?
    Leadership is the ability to guide an organization or team in a singular direction. I think that great leadership has three important facets. First, it is about listening and acknowledging the needs of your people or organization. Second, the ability to see the ‘big picture’ while being adaptable to change, to ensure you’re leading to the right place. Finally, leadership is about holding everyone accountable, while making tough decisions.

  2. Why are you interested in this position?
    I am extraordinarily lucky that throughout my career both inside and outside of libraries that I have been mentored by amazing people. They have taught me many lessons I might not have picked up in the classroom or on the job. Sometimes these lessons are tough, things I don’t want to hear, but behind every lesson, kind word, or advice, is someone seeing the best that I can be and nurturing it.

    I find it my personal responsibility to be an amazing librarian in order to give back to my peers and help be that type of mentor to someone else. I want to serve on the CLA board because it gives me a platform to help mentor other librarians and help make the change I want to be.

  3. How would you describe your personal leadership/communication style?
    My personal leadership is all about humor and accountability. I want to work and live in a place where people can laugh and enjoy themselves; it is one of the reasons why I love what I do. The flip side to that is my very serious nature, the need to hold everyone accountable to a very high work standard. I managed a Starbucks for almost eleven years and while there I maintained the lowest hiring turnover rate and highest promotion rate in the district. I hung my hat on the fact that while people knew I was tough, I was also going to make work feel like fun and your co-workers like a family.  

  4. What strengths would you bring to the position?
    I have a big mouth. In the best sense of the phrase, I like to play the devil’s advocate and ask why. Not in a way that is terribly annoying, but because I want to be an advocate for change when it is called for. Change for the sake of change is not always a good thing, but shaking free of the idea that--we’ve always done it this way so this is the way it must be done—irks me. I think it is a lazy way of thinking and that’s why I think being bold enough to speak up is a strength I would bring to the table. (That and my impressive Pog collection.)

  5. What experience do you bring to this position?
    I worked two jobs at the same time for a very long time, the Starbucks Coffee Company and the Santa Clara City Library, in every part-time position imaginable. Together they mesh into a unique set of experiences. For example, working outside of libraries warped my take on libraries and what they should be. I think in order to thrive libraries must become more than the books on our shelves. I want libraries to be a central hub for the community; I want people to know that the library can be so much more than what people think they are. For-profit companies tailor everything they do to make the customer know they exist and what they provide, but in libraries we struggle to market ourselves outside of our direct in library market. I think my work experience outside of libraries gives me a fresh perspective to bring to this position.

    As a librarian I try and bring that same perspective into everything I do. I work with teenagers and expose them to the amazing possibilities of the library. CLA and BAYA awarded me their 2016 teen librarian of the year award for that work. (Thank you again) I work on marketing our library and the things we do, thank you again for the numerous CLA PRExcellence awards, while I don’t work on the graphics I help put it out into the world so people will know what we do. Awards are cool (and shiny), but I think the best experience I bring to this position is my ability to work well on a team, to identify problems and think of solutions, to be pro-active rather than reactive. 

  6. What issues or trends are particularly informing your work at this time?
    As a branch librarian I have the privilege of being an all things kids, teens, and adult’s librarian for our community. There are three trends that I see informing my work right now.

    The transient nature and diversity of tech workers in the bay area is reshaping Northern California and how we can be of service as a library.

    I like to call this “The Missing Generation.” How come libraries are able to get children, then some teens, then a few college kids to visit, but have a drastic and dramatic drop off when we talk about people age 20-35? Why does this missing generation not visit the library? How can we as libraries talk to them? Are we using the right modes of communication to reach them? These groups the return, but only when they then have children. This is a very constant vexing issue for me.

    How do I get my dad to come to the library aka library marketing.  No, really this is an issue. My father represents a population of the community that does not utilize libraries; he could benefit from their services, but does not enter them. How can we build services and market them outside of our libraries four walls? Internal flyers speak to a crowd already utilizing the library, how do we showcase what we offer to groups who do not use—but could benefit—from the library?

  7. Who are the thought leaders (in libraries or in other fields) who interest you?
    Inside of libraries, specifically California, I am influenced by the ideas of people like Dolly Goyal, Morgan Pershing, Susan Baier, Emily Weak, and so many more I cannot name. Some of these people may sound familiar, some may not. What they all have in common is their ability to push boundaries and be inspirations. A thought leader does not need to be a person, the work that comes from places like Sacramento public, San Francisco public, and YOLO County push me to rethink my own vision of what a library could be.

    Outside of libraries I am shaped for many reasons by Howard Schultz, long time CEO of Starbucks. He offered benefits to employees for working only twenty hours long before anyone else, because he remembers when his dad broke his leg and lost his medical benefits. His heartfelt compassion for those that work for him and those that come to drink coffee, inspire me to take care of those I serve and those I work with. Michelle Obama is an inspiration to me as a leader and as one fierce woman. Finally Elon Musk rounds out my list because of his work as a business man and entrepreneur. I’d like to think that people will never stop being amazed when they look up at the stars. I admire his work with Space X, and the hope it brings that one day we can travel far beyond our own world.   

  8. Who are the regional and statewide stakeholders libraries need to be in communication with?
    When I started working under my current supervisor she pulled out a list of mom groups from across Northern California. She had painstakingly worked her way in, with no kids of her own, to meaningful relationships with the moderators of these lists, because she felt libraries had something to offer them. In the same way I think libraries should be working their way onto many more lists that reach out to our stakeholders. Locally for me that includes my work with LGBTQ teens and the LGBTQ Youth Space, my neighboring middle and high schools. Sometimes these lists are really just different web/social media interactions, but we need to be able to connect with people through the avenues that they are connecting with each other.

    I often have to work with the city council member for my district and the mayor. While we might all shout that we need to work with the government, it is in fact the effects of government that affect our stakeholders. For example, the political and social unrest in the nation libraries need strong relationships with their immigrant communities, like the Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC). Utilizing groups like the Girl Scouts or the Girls Who Code program which bring girls together and teach them skills and encourage them to create a project for their community. All across California Libraries can reach out to their local entrepreneurs and start-up companies for monetary funding, but better yet to be a demonstration location for new technology. Libraries are now offering virtual reality labs and Chromebooks to their primary stakeholders, due in part to relationships forged by a few librarians with these massive tech companies.

  9. What do you feel are the most critical challenges and opportunities facing California libraries right now
    Looking at the next ten years I think there is a potential crunch on library funding. From political shifts, to increasing city retirement allocations, city and county budgets could be constricting, but with that is a great opportunity for libraries. In the short term libraries can better themselves at selling what they do to the public and their city and state governments. Agencies have a harder time removing funding from institutions where there is large, LOUD, outcry that those services are needed and vital. I hate to be a horn tooter myself, but I think as an institution libraries can do a lot more horn tooting within their communities. 

    Second, is the ability to be lean and mean, something I learned from Starbucks. Are libraries training and developing their staff to be efficient? How much time is lost to inefficiency because we, as libraries, don’t conduct internal audits of our policies and procedures? In its essence lean and mean is about saving time, which can be used to our patrons benefit. What if we could make just one person in our circulation department 4 minutes more efficient every day? Just 4 minutes would allow for an entire day at the end of the year of saved time, think about it, an entire day. If libraries can figure out what they can do now to be more efficient, it will help cushion fallout from potential budget cuts. 

    Board Member At-Large

  10. Describe your experience serving on Association committees and/or interest groups.
    I have not served on a CLA association committee, but I have served on large scale projects within my own library committee. For example when we worked with the Super Bowl 50 groups to host our STEM Innovation Bowl I was one of the libraries representatives working on planning, marketing, budget, and staffing. Outside of libraries, very similar to committees, I worked with other regional store managers for hiring and training plans for our Baristas and Shift Supervisors.

  11. Describe your network of connections with library professionals and library stakeholders in California.
    I wish in Library School there was a class called, Network Connections in Libraries. I say this because if I had not had wonderful mentors who I have known within my long tenure within libraries- I would have been very lost within the profession. This is, once again, one of the many reasons why I think it is my responsibility to mentor other librarians. I have personally worked or known many librarians in the California Bay Area on top of knowing fabulous librarians like Dolly Goyal and my current supervisor, Cheryl Lee, both of whom do a lot of work with CLA and ALA. These awesome people helped me get my tree started.

    Working on a number of LSTA grants with Morgan Pershing introduced me to more librarians within the California State Library. Additionally, my grant work with LSTA got me heavily involoved with local government, the Chamber of Commerce, and lots of small business owners. My grant Sustainable U, brought me together with Seed Librarians from across the nation, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s) farms, Yelp!, Etsy groups of San Francisco, and allowed me to work with all of my neighboring library system librarians like Emily Weak, Rachel Schmidt, Michele Rowic on library to library bike ride.

    I then had the opportunities to speak at conferences, where I have met and built even more relationships, spreading out to librarians in Southern California.  I have had the privilege to speak at the CLA conference, Futures of Libraries, Internet librarian, ALSC and the San Diego Comic Con educator’s conference. It is awesome to share what you are doing within your own library, but the best part is meeting tons of new librarians and sharing ideas. I don’t mean to name drop, I don’t think that is what this question is meant for, but I mean it as an example of that by just getting out from behind the desk, and being active within your own community, you can meet so many different people within the profession.