Meet Our Members: Maria F. Estrella
Member-at-Large / Cleveland Public Library / CAYASC Chair
Thursday, November 26, 2020
by: Editorial Team

Section: Member Profiles

Fall 2020

Portrait of Maria F. Estrella

Job position and place of employment

Dyad Public Services Manager - Cleveland Public Library

Current MLIS program and/or educational background

  • Masters of Communication and Information in Library and Information Science (Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, 2008)
  • Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Social Work and Spanish (Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio)
  • Associate of Liberal Arts (Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland, Ohio, 2004)
  • Hispanic Alliance Leadership Development Initiative Cohort V Hispanic Alliance (2017)
  • ALA Leadership Institute: Leading to the Future American Library Association (2016)
  • OhioNET Library Leadership Ohio (2016) 
  • Certified Public Librarian Ohio Library Council (2011)

What are your primary responsibilities at work?

I supervise the day-to-day operations of the Cleveland Public Library’s Garden Valley and Woodland Branch as well as fourteen staff members, including planning and directing the work, and evaluating their performance. I am responsible for promoting the library and its services by developing collaborative relationships with other library branches, subject departments, neighborhood schools, daycares, and various regional and national organizations. I plan, coordinate, implement, and supervise branch and library programming for adults, teens, and children, and offer support in community outreach activities and events, such as library informational engagements.

How does your work impact Latinx and Spanish-speaking communities?

Throughout my twenty years of library service in various capacities, I have provided a helping hand in successfully representing Latinx-related library initiatives within the Cleveland neighborhoods and to patrons. I have served in the Cleveland Public Library’s New Americans Committee, assisted during the Cleveland Convención Hispana, provided bilingual storytime outreach for neighborhood families at Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center, and participated in the Hispanic Alliance Leadership Development Initiative.

Although, as Latinos, our professional journey may seem a lonely one at times, continue to persevere! Be that only Latinx student taking that university course, be that only talented library professional working for that library system...

Share with us some gratifying aspects of your work.

The most gratifying aspect of my work is connecting library patrons to the resources needed to successfully accomplish a spectrum of tasks. I also continue to advocate, promote, and provide direct services to young library patrons by serving on national committees and task forces, whose primary goal is to provide diverse literacy and technological resources/services to enhance the lives of young library patrons and help them become life-long learners.

Offer words of advice to other colleagues and/or present and future MLIS students.

Although, as Latinos, our professional journey may seem a lonely one at times, continue to persevere! Be that only Latinx student taking that university course, be that only talented library professional working for that library system, be that only Latinx demanding a seat at any table!

Tell us about programs/projects you have worked on or are working on, either at work or with REFORMA.

I served in various roles within REFORMA. I served on the 2016 Pura Belpré Book Award Committee. I am currently the Chair of the Children's & Young Adult Services Committee and REFORMA’s liaison to the Association of Library Services to Children (ALSC) related to the Pura Belpré Book Award. I am responsible for providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information relevant to the effective delivery of library services to Spanish-speaking children in the United States. I also address specific issues relevant to the effective delivery of library services, such as the use of traditional measures which may result in an inequitable and discriminatory allocation of resources. During the 2020 Virtual American Library Association Annual Conference, I also organized and moderated the ALA/ALSC presentation titled “Juntos: Latinx Family Engagement at Your Library,” and was featured in the Children and Libraries summer 2020 article “Welcoming to All: Latinx Culture and Programming: Notes from Latinx Librarians.”

Tell us about services you/your organization is providing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cleveland Public Library is providing an array of services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The library is making it easier for patrons to pick up their materials or obtain basic printing, faxing, or scanning services by offering curbside and walk-up services. We are also working with Greater Cleveland Food Bank to provide after-school brown-bag meals for children and teens to pick up at the Main Building and 27 local branches. Limited computer usage of one hour per patron per day is provided to allow for cleaning and also allow more people to access the internet. Residents of the city of Cleveland who are unable to visit the library due to age or disability can also have library materials delivered to their homes.

In addition, the Cleveland Public Library is providing online programs such as an authors' discussion on democracy. Democracy 2020 featured authors Cathy O’Neil, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, and Bryan Stevenson. Another great online program is the Young Scholars Academy, which helps ensure that children from ages 3-6 become ready for kindergarten.
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