National Library Workers Day

| April 10, 2018

Today is National Library Workers Day.  While many grow up visiting libraries, not everyone is aware of all the work library workers do to create and maintain the collections and spaces people love and depend on.  This blog will highlight some librarians who have devoted their careers to building and fighting for library collections that are representative of the communities they serve and to expand access to library services.

 

Martha P. Cotera

Martha P. Cotera
photo from Loyola Marymount University

Martha P. Cotera
Cotera is a librarian and life long activist.  Cotera noted that collections of the libraries where she worked in 1960s Texas did not include works by or about Mexican Americans. Cotera worked tirelessly to change this and to ensure that works documenting and discussing Mexican American history would be included in library collections. Cotera assembled reading lists and created annotated bibliographies focusing on Mexican-American Women and Chicano Studies not only for students but also in hopes of creating more inclusive libraries elsewhere.  In 1974 she co-founded the Chicana Research and Learning Center in Austin, Texas.

 

 

 

Jean Blackwell Hutson with Langston Hughes

Jean Blackwell Hutson with Langston Hughes
Photo Credit:
Jean Blackwell Hutson Portrait Collection
Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Jean Blackwell Hutson
A curator, librarian and educator, Hutson is best known for the integral role she played in developing the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.  Hutson worked at several branches of The New York Public Library before moving to the 135th Street branch library in Harlem. The 135th Street Branch Library housed the Schomburg Collection for Research in Black Culture, the collection that would later become the foundational collection of a new New York Public Library research library, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Hutson worked to expand the collection from 15,000 to over 75,000 volumes that focused on the histories and cultures of the African diaspora. As the collection grew, Hutson fought to raise money for a new climate controlled building to house it.  In celebration of her long-lasting contributions, the Research and Reference Division of the Schomburg Center is named in her honor.

 

 

 

Lotsee Patterson

Photo from Oklahoma Library Association

Lotsee Patterson
Patterson, an educator and librarian dedicated her career to establishing and improving library services on American Indian tribal lands. Patterson grew up during the Great Depression on a Comanche allotment where most children didn’t have anything to read at all.  Patterson’s mother however, would order books by mail from the state library. The library books brought Patterson much joy. Her desire to share her love of books with her community shaped her future and drove her mission to expand access to libraries for people living on tribal lands.  Patterson co-founded the American Indian Library Association and played a central role in drafting and fighting for legislation that would finally mandate permanent federal funding for libraries on tribal lands.

 

These women and many others have made enormous contributions to their fields and to their communities.  If you would like to recognize someone who makes your library possible, you can nominate them as a library star on the American Libraries Association’s National Library Worker’s Day website.