Dr. Romelia Salinas

2024 Elizabeth Martinez Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Romelia SalinasDr. Romelia Salinas grew up in Dinuba, CA as the proud daughter of immigrant farmworker parents. She credits her parents for instilling in her the essential principles of perseverance, dignity, hard work and helping others. As a first-generation college student, she graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) with bachelor’s degrees in Chicano/a Studies, and Law and Society. Her journey into libraries and archives began at UCSB, where she worked as a student assistant for the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Here, she learned about the importance of representation in preserved historical materials and libraries.

Dr. Salinas continued her studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), earning her Master’s and PhD in Library and Information Science. While pursuing her Master’s degree she was recipient of the REFORMA National Scholarship and participated in the REFORMA/UCLA Mentor Program.

After obtaining her MLIS, Dr. Salinas embarked on a career in academic librarianship that now spans over 30 years. She entered the field during a transformative period when the internet was revolutionizing information access and sharing. Recognizing the critical need for underrepresented and marginalized communities to have equitable access to technology, she worked on innovative digital projects at UCLA’s Chicano Studies Library and UC Riverside’s Center for Virtual Research. She served as project manager for CLNet, the first scholarly internet site for Chicano/Latino Studies, established and managed Mujer-L, the first email discussion list for Chicana/Latina issues, and helped set up a free community internet lab in Riverside, California, primarily serving Latinx and African American communities.

Dr. Salinas then joined California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA), where she spent much of her career. Initially hired as the Social Science Librarian, she eventually became the Head of Access Services and later the Head of Reference Services. She currently serves as the Dean of Library, Learning Resources, and Distance Learning at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC), a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). At Mt. SAC, she leads initiatives to provide students with the information and resources they need to succeed, focusing on projects that support underserved students and address the digital divide and equitable access to technology.

Throughout her professional journey, REFORMA has been a constant presence. Dr. Salinas served as President for the Los Angeles Chapter for several years and became active on the national level serving as an inaugural member of the Information Technology Committee developing REFORMA’s first Information Technology Agenda in response to challenges for providing equitable services to Latinos and the Spanish speaking community in the digital era. She served as the founding webmaster for REFORMA national, chaired the Education Committee for two terms, and was elected as a Chapter Representative. Most recently, she served as the 2022-2023 National President and is currently completing her term as Past-President, chairing the Finance Committee, and serving on the Strategic Planning Committee. Once her term on the Executive Committee concludes, she plans to co-chair the Academic Librarians Advancing Services (ALAS) Committee, which she helped established during her presidency to provide a space for academic librarians within REFORMA.

Comments from colleagues about Dr. Salinas

As the past president of REFORMA from 2022 to 2023, Dr. Salinas demonstrated exemplary leadership, guiding the organization with vision and passion. Her extensive experience in academic librarianship, coupled with her strategic insight, has been invaluable in shaping REFORMA's direction…One of Dr. Salinas's most remarkable qualities is her ability to mentor and inspire others.David Lopez, REFORMA National President, 2023-2024

Dr. Romelia Salinas is an accomplished librarian, educator, and administrator who has dedicated her life to uplifting Latino/x/é and Spanish-speaking communities. She has been deeply committed to mentoring librarians, particularly those from Latina backgrounds... Her role as a mentor is not just about imparting knowledge but also about being a beacon of inspiration. As one of few Latina deans overseeing an academic library, she stands as a testament to resilience and excellence. She has an unwavering dedication to empowering others and uplifting Latino/x/é and Spanish-speaking communities.Esteban Aguilar, Monika Chavez, Crystal Huckabee

As a librarian at Cal State LA, Romelia established the East Los Angeles Archive and was a founding member of the Latino Digital Archive Group, a group that helped raise national awareness around the need to establish a Latino digital archive with a goal to digitally preserve all aspects of US Latino History. Dr. Salinas’ contributions to the library profession, higher education and specifically to REFORMA have been significant and have had a lasting impact.Carlos Rodriguez, Dean, University Library, Cal State LA

Dr. Salinas has been a great inspiration for me on a personal and professional level. She has grace and grit all within the same style. She is someone I have learned many interpersonal skills that have aided me in my career even after I moved into a different role…She has been the best boss a person can ask for. To express how much I miss her guidance and patience would not do justice to her mentorship. Abigail Morales, Implementation Project Manager, Innovative Interfaces

Romelia has been working on two major projects that will have a tremendous impact on the Latinx community in higher education. First, Romelia is serving as an advisor on an IMLS Grant received by the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC). In this capacity, she provides thoughtful comments on how to engage and expand Shared Print Services to ensure that collections about the Latinx community are preserved. Additionally, Romelia has been pivotal in helping to create a new REFORMA committee, the Academic Librarians Advancing Service (ALAS) Committee…Romelia’s exemplary leadership and unwavering commitment to REFORMA have left an indelible mark on the library profession.Mario A. Ascencio, College Librarian & Director, Art Center

Dr. Salinas's dedication to equity also extends to her research endeavors, where she sheds light on information barriers and challenges faced by underserved communities, particularly Latinx. Her scholarly publications delve into critical topics such as the representation of Latinas in web content, the digital divide among the Latinx community, and the formation of partnerships with nonprofits to address local digital needs.Celia Avila de Santiago, Senior Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library