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CLA Elections 2017 - Cecilia Tovar
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Cecilia Tovar, Santa Monica Public Library

ALA Councilor

Candidate Statement

As a bilingual and bicultural librarian, I am aware of the challenges related to cultural awareness and equity within the field.   Most of the 10 years of my professional library career has been in Arizona but I recently moved to California about three years ago where I found a wonderful system to work as a Principal Librarian and focus on adult and bilingual services.  I opened a newly constructed branch library in Santa Monica, CA in the Pico Neighborhood where bilingual services and political acumen in managing relations were the keys for a successful grand opening.  My education and work experiences have prepared me to serve different types of communities in California.  As an active ALA and REFORMA member, I understand the importance of building successful relationships to promote lifelong learning and advocate for access and equity.  The 2015 Eureka! Leadership Institute and training in the Harwood Institute’s Turning Outward method have helped me to develop skills in changing culture and in community engagement opportunities. 

As a newly elected ALA Council-at-Large, I am committed to inform CLA members about all resolutions and legislation presented at ALA Council.  My vision for CLA is to continue supporting its mission through strong leadership and activism to represent California library priorities at the national level.  I will work towards diversifying CLA funding and promoting members, and I ask for your vote for ALA Chapter Councilor.



  1. How do you define leadership?
    Leadership is the ability to guide and mobilize people or organizations into action.  I believe people can lead from any position if they are skilled in navigating conflict, and are able to balance different points of view to achieve a common goal.  As a leader, I will contribute to CLA by being actively engaged with the CLA Board and its members, including organizing events that will help increase awareness to any issues that we might decide to tackle.  

  2. Why are you interested in this position?
    As a newly elected ALA Council-at-Large, I believe this position is a natural segue way to contribute to librarianship at the state level.  I am committed to working with other ALA councilors to take action on issues that our profession faces in today's society.  I will inform CLA members about all resolutions and legislation presented to Council that could impact California libraries’ priorities and policy.  

  3. How would you describe your personal leadership/communication style?
    My leadership style is adaptive, social and democratic.  I strive by making a difference and having concrete goals.  I am passionate and expressive;  I use anecdotes and examples to emphasize my points; and to persuade and influence others to adopt my organization’s perspective.  As a leader, I foster cooperation and collaboration to initiate change for a practical and successful outcome.  

  4. What strengths would you bring to the position?
    I am strong communicator, activator, and achiever.  My communication skills will bring focus to important library issues and resolutions that will generate discussion and action.  I will bring energy to this position and turn ideas into action.  

  5. What experience do you bring to this position?
    As a bilingual and bicultural librarian, I am aware of the challenges related to cultural awareness and equity within the field. My education and work experiences have prepared me in the areas of supervision, team building, technology, program and resource development, and management. I understand the importance of building successful relationships to promote lifelong learning in different types of communities. 

    As an active REFORMA member, I have contributed as a leader in relationship building and mentoring to new Librarians in the field and support the organization mission and vision by promoting Spanish language services throughout my career.   Currently, as Principal Librarian of Branch & Public Services I am working with my team to grow our new adult literacy program, and build a strong partnerships and alliances for a more robust community impact.   

    Leadership and Professional Association Memberships:
     - REFORMA National Member- Since 2007
     - 2015 Eureka! Leadership Institute
     - Knowledge River Scholar Cohort 5- 2006-2007

     - Honors and Awards (library and non-library):
     - Library Journal-Movers & Shakers-2015
     - ALA New Members Roundtable Student Chapter of the Year Award-2007


  6. What issues or trends are particularly informing your work at this time?
    Our nation is facing a critical shift in political views that is mobilizing Americans to fight for democracy.  The issues that currently are informing my work are social justice and equity, immigration issues and information literacy.  I could not do my job effectively without being informed on these issues, and  advocating for my community.       

  7. Who are the thought leaders (in libraries or in other fields) who interest you?
    I admire fearless leaders that can influence people for social change and fight for equality and equity such as Cesar Chavez and Elizabeth Martinez.  As part of the Eureka Leadership Institute, I had the privilege to interact with great leaders and learn from them, such as my mentor Helen McAlary and Jayanti Addleman.  They continue to inspire me through their library work and CLA advocacy. 
  8. Who are the regional and statewide stakeholders libraries need to be in communication with?
    Librarians need to be in communication with city officials, state representatives and the private sector to communicate challenges and issues, including advocating for our communities.  As a California librarian, it is important for me that the California Library Association is represented at the national level at ALA to ensure that California priorities are discussed and advocate for solutions.  In addition, it is important for librarians to have a global view of issues in order to help all communities and develop stronger activism in a unified voice.    
  9. What do you feel are the most critical challenges and opportunities facing California libraries right now?
    There are many challenges that California libraries are facing, such as the attack on IMLS funding and Intellectual Freedom.  There are also many opportunities that we can affect by continuing our work in supporting staff development and training to grow well-rounded library staff and leaders.  Our changing society’s needs and the rapid change of technology, libraries need to stay current and form alliances with the private sector and philanthropy organizations in order to support library services is for all.  Last but not least, libraries must continue working with community members and organization to support all our immigrant communities’ information needs, and provide a safe place to learn and thrive.   


    ALA Councilor

  10. Describe your involvement with ALA.
    I am incoming ALA Councilor-at-Large for 2018-2020.  In my role, I will be exposed and determine all Association polices, including act on petitions from national organizations and to act on resolutions referred by the membership.  I will make sure that information pertaining to California is shared with CLA members and its chapters.