Monthly, we will profile current ALSC Board members. We hope to offer information about the people who work to guide the organization so that you can feel more comfortable in reaching out to them with your concerns, questions, or comments. This month, we invite you to meet ALSC Board member, Maria Estrella.
How did you first get involved with ALSC?
I first became involved with the Association for Library Service to Children approximately a decade ago. I was a Youth Services Subject Department Librarian, and my incredibly supportive Public Services Manager encouraged me to submit an ALSC Committee Volunteer Form. There was limited representation of Latine librarians in the state of Ohio at that point in time, and connecting with fellow BIPOC professionals was a professional objective. To my delight, I was selected to serve in the 2016 Pura Belpré Award with five amazing Latinas, one also being Colombian.
How has participation in ALSC affected your career?
My involvement in the Association for Library Service to Children, both directly and indirectly, has facilitated many outstanding professional opportunities. For instance, I participated in the design of the Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award, and served on the first award committee that recognized the most outstanding digital media for an early learning audience. As a former REFORMA (National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking) Children and Young Adults Services Committee Chair, and a REFORMA liaison to the Association for Library Service to Children, I worked closely with the fantastic ALSC team on matters related to the Pura Belpré Award and Celebración. Most importantly, I appreciate the incredible connections I have formed over the years with some of the most amazing individuals who positively impact their communities through their committed services.
Moreover, one of the most meaningful opportunities I have professionally experienced is to advocate and facilitate a platform to exchange ideas and information relevant to the effective delivery of library services to Spanish-speaking children and teens in the United States. As a multicultural Latina, immigrant, and neurodivergent individual, I understand how imperative representation, valuable initiatives, and outstanding programs are for historically marginalized communities. This awareness sparked a passion to slightly pivot my professional goals as a servant library leader. Correspondently, leading me to obtain a Diversity and Inclusion certification from Cornell University, and I am currently enrolled in graduate school to obtain a Master’s in Diversity Leadership and Change Management. To support and advocate for diverse, equitable, and inclusive library policies and services, I also serve as a Councilor-at-Large for the American Library Association.
What advice would you give to an ALSC member interested in exploring more leadership or governance roles?
If you have a passion and are considering the prospect of serving in a leadership or governance role, obtain your organization’s support, and submit your name for consideration! Initially, it may seem a bit scary, but you will gain valuable professional skills. Furthermore, your voice is immensely needed if you are an individual from an underrepresented community. In spite of the fact that our professional journey can sometimes seem lonely, be that one voice advocating for a seat at the table! You never know whom you are inspiring with your courage.
What is your favorite Youth Media Award-winning book?
Through the years, I have acquired so many Youth Media Award-winning favorites! Each title has a particular significance for distinct reasons. For instance, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite titles, as it was a marvelous unexpected win. While Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation and A Land of Books Dreams of Young Mexihcah Word Painters by Duncan Tonatiuh are magnificent representations of determination within the Latine community. The Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña reminds me of the intergenerational bond between a grandmother and her grandson. The Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, cautions teen readers of the possible repercussions of making impulsive decisions. While King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender is a novel that eloquently tackles sensitive and profound topics needed in youth literary works. Meanwhile, Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle provides a pivotal representation of multicultural Latinas and inspires young readers to pursue their dreams. We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstromalso provides a space for young indigenous readers to feel seen and celebrated. Carole Boston Weatherford’s Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre sheds light on a profound historical moment previously suppressed. Claribel A. Ortega’s graphic novel Frizzy emphasizes the significance of accepting oneself. Yet, The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera demonstrates to readers that even when the world ends, we still need storytellers to carry our narratives.
What is your favorite ALSC memory?
My favorite ALSC memory is when an image of our Early Learning Digital Media Award committee was adapted into a GIF to promote the Youth Media Awards. I did not know about it until a Library friend from Canada forwarded the link. We will forever cheer for the annual celebration!
Maria F. Estrella, 2022-2025 ALSC Board of Directors member, is a Public Services Manager III with the Cleveland (Ohio) Public Library. She is a servant leader, diversity and inclusion consultant, and proud parent of two amazing pre-teens sons.
Interested in standing for election to the ALSC Board? Find out more on the ALSC election information page.