New Mexico State Library

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ALA President Visits Santa Ana Pueblo Community Library

by Cassandra E. Osterloh, Tribal Libraries Program Coordinator, NM State Library

American Library Association President Emily Drabinski’s “The Road to Annual” tour kicked off on June 3 at Cranston Public Library in Rhode Island. The tour was set up with the hopes of highlighting the importance of federal support for libraries and included stops in West Virginia, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. With the support of the Lannan Foundation, filmmaker Nikita Carpenter documented the work happening at select libraries. A reel will air during the President’s Program at the upcoming ALA Annual Conference in San Diego. A full documentary film will be made available later.
Santa Ana Pueblo Community Library Director Cassandra Zamora hosted the ALA crew on June 20, showing them around the library, and speaking about the importance of her library to the community, as well as the importance of tribal libraries. Community members were interviewed and spoke of their love and support for their library. It was heartwarming to hear the stories of fondness for the library and for Cassandra and her devotion. I also had the opportunity to talk with President Drabinski about New Mexico’s Tribal Libraries Program, as well as the challenges facing tribal public libraries.
Santa Ana Pueblo Community Library Director Cassandra Zamora speaking with ALA President Emily Drabinski.
I think President Drabinski highlighted the visit quite nicely in her post:

“We were generously welcomed into the Santa Ana Pueblo Community Library by Cassandra Zamora, a solo librarian who has built an extraordinary library for the 800 tribal members who live in Rebahene, Ranchitos, and Chicale on the Tamaya Indian Reservation. A colorful children’s area hosts storytimes and crafting, a robust collection of board games circulates to the community, and twenty sewing machines can be checked out or used in one of the many sewing classes offered by the library. Shirley Pino, a renowned fabric artist, teaches some of these classes. She is also an avid user of the library. When we asked her how many times she visits the library in a month, she laughed, counting on her fingers until she got to five times a week.

Like many tribal members, Pino lives just a few minutes away from the library. Sharing space with other educational programs, the library is at the heart of this community. Aaron Montoya, a GIS specialist whose office is in a neighboring building, visits for a quiet moment or a chat with Zamora during his workdays. He has collaborated with the library to develop a cycling program that brings tribal members closer to their own land. “When you see a place by car, you see it quickly,” he tells us. “When you go by bicycle, you can get closer, stop, take your time.”
The cycling program is just one of Zamora’s extensive and ever-changing public programs. She also offers trivia nights, hiking clubs, fishing trips, video game tournaments, storytimes, and more. It’s a lot for just one person to handle, Zamora acknowledged, echoing what we’ve heard in libraries along the entire tour. With more resources, libraries can do even more for their communities.  With so much to see and to say, we closed down the library, talking with Zamora until she needed to leave for her daughter’s volleyball game. We each took a box of homemade biscochitos, grateful for her generosity and hospitality.”
Check out all the tour stops and posts: The Road to Annual Presidential Tour | ALA

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