Save Our Libraries!
As we enter the month of September it is important to be aware of the fact that our furloughed librarians are entering their 6th month of unemployment. Those benefits expire after 6 months. While there is a chance they might get an extension on those benefits it is not automatic.
As the numbers of COVID cases in El Paso continue to decline more and more, activities are beginning to be allowed with various restrictions for safety. Our churches have resumed services, some schools are having in person classes, football games are being played, and restaurants have certainly started to see more customers. As I continue to get updates from friends across Texas and the rest of the country about their local libraries, I find that more and more are finding innovative ways of safely opening and serving the public again.
I do not believe the city has any excuse for not proceeding to some sort of limited opening of our libraries. As a city with a high rate of illiteracy, our citizens need the access to the computers and printers as well as the books. It is our most vulnerable citizens that are being affected by shuttered libraries, the elderly, the financially at risk, and our students. Our librarians need to resume their jobs. At a recent city council meeting the cities financial officer stated the librarians had been offered temporary jobs but had not taken them. In order to take those jobs they would have had to resign their position, thus losing their benefits, seniority, and requiring them to reapply for their position when the libraries do reopen. I find it troubling that this picture of the librarians being unwilling to work is being propagated to our city council representatives. They are anxious to resume their duties and their interrupted lives.
I believe it comes down to finances. The city has apparently decided that financially they cannot afford to reopen our libraries. Yet, raises have been reinstated, merit bonuses have been accepted by the some of the highest paid individuals, and stimulus checks have been given to city employees. Not the furloughed employees, though. This seems morally corrupt to me. That our librarians and the library system is being damaged in this way is heartbreaking. Our libraries are the first line of defense against illiteracy in any society. I find it incredible that the literacy of our city is seen as unimportant by city leaders or at the very least something to be deferred.
As an elected city representative I request that you continue to question and push and demand that the libraries be allowed to reopen. The current status of them being closed the rest of the year is outrageous. They can find the funds to restore city employees to their positions just as other cities have. I can find no instance in any other municipality where city employees have been furloughed for 6 months. Libraries should be a priority. Do we really want to be the type of city that does not value libraries?
On October 31, 2013 the Regional Border Library Association held its annual conference in Las Cruces, N.M. EPPLA board members, Luis Chaparro and Lorena Gutiérrez attended the session presented by Oralia Garza de Cortés. Ms. Cortés, a former REFORMA president, is a renowned leader and expert in children’s literature in Spanish. She gave an enlightening presentation on the role of children’s literature in Latin America. She highlighted the literary giants in this genre and explained some of their works. Gabriela Mistral from Chile, José Martí from Cuba, and Aquiles Nazoa from Venezuela were some of the writers that Ms. Garza de Cortés mentioned in her presentation. She gave examples of their works and explained the profound impact they created in the development of children’s literature in Latin America.
Ms. Garza de Cortés also gave information regarding bilingual education and the importance it has in the educational development of Hispanic children in the United States. Her concluding remarks emphasized that bilingualism is good for all American children and the more exposure they have to different cultures and different languages, the greater their contribution to contemporary society in the United States.
ALA Chicago 2013
Two Board members, Luis Chaparro and Oscar Baeza, attended the American Library Association Conference in Chicago. Ninfa Trejo presented the award named in memory of her late husband, Dr. Arnulfo Trejo. This award is given to an emergent leader in the profession that furthers the ideals and philosophy of the founder. The winner of this year’s award is our colleague, Oscar Baeza. Congratulations Oscar on this well deserved award!
Visit to Conalep I
On August 12, 2013, EPPLA members visited the CONALEP I School in Juarez. CONALEP, the National College of Professional Technical Education, is a nation-wide system of schools that prepares students in the technological and industrial fields. There are 302 campuses all over Mexico; Juarez has two. EPPLA Board members toured CONALEP I, met with administrators and faculty, and enjoyed a literary reading offered by the students. About 14 students comprise the Reading Club. The students meet before and after school to explore the humanities and the creative arts. Since the curriculum is composed in its majority of technical courses, the Reading Club offers the students an opportunity to read, write poetry and paint. The students read aloud their writings and showed the visitors a mural they created with their own original paintings.
EPPLA donated a box of books and its members look forward to working with the CONALEP I to promote the Reading Club, acquire more books for the library, and encourage the creative potential of its students.
Little Free Library At MW Montessori
El Paso Public Library Association (EPPLA) participated in the donation of a Little Free Library to the Mountain West Montessori school in El Paso, Texas on May 24, 2013. The event was attended by children and their parents who participated in the reading activities. EPPLA partnered with Lisa Lopez, a local school librarian and Ambassador of the little Free Libraries. It was through her help that a local woodworker club got the materials to build the small but beautiful structure. Lorena Gutiérrez, EPPLA Secretary, spearheaded the program. There were several readings by both children and parents. They read bilingual poems.
Dia De Los Ninos
Our Association participated in the Dia de los Niños celebration that took place Saturday, April 27 at the Main Library downtown. The association joined members of El Paso Chapter of Reforma in the distribution of free books to the participants. We also organized a Mexican lottery game and gave free books to all the winners. This event was well attended and the kids had a wonderful time.
Reading Dr. Seuss at La Fe Prep School
On February 25, 2013 La Fe Prep School and El Paso Public Library Association honored Dr. Seuss with a reading activity.
Mrs. Diaz and Mrs. Holguín are the Spanish teachers who invited EPPLA to share with kindergarten kids in their school. Thirty two enthusiastic kids heard Lorena Gutiérrez reading in Spanish “Hay un Molillo en mi bolsillo” and also received a Dr. Seuss’s book from EPPLA.
Let’s start promoting kids with two minds: Spanish and English.
Poetry & Essay Reading Contest
Reading is a wonderful tool for life! So EPPLA motivates children to read with a Poetry and Essay Reading Contest. There were twelve finalists from three elementary schools: Douglass, Zavala, and Hart.
The contest was a great opportunity for the families to come together and share in this experience. More than fifty people were in the event. All the participants had a gift for participating in the contest.
The Poetry Contest Winners are:
- 1st Place: Raúl Pichardo
- 2nd Place: Ari Valero
- 3th Place: Alondra Gonzales
April 2012, Sergio Troncoso in El Paso
On April 2012 native writer Sergio Troncoso gave reading of his latest works. The event was held at the Clardy Fox Branch of the El Paso Public Library in Central El Paso. Before more than 100 people Troncoso read from his latest work, The last Tortilla and Other Stories.
Sergio Troncoso was born, raised and educated in the Ysleta area of our city and is a graduate of Ysleta High School, Harvard College, and Yale University.
He currently resides in Manhattan, N.Y. but visits El Paso as often as he can. Mr. Troncoso is author of four nationally acclaimed books. He has won numerous regional and national awards. On April 14, 2012, he was inducted to the prestigious Texas Institute of Letters. Most recently he was awarded the 2013 BRLA Book Award and was in El Paso the week of February 20 to receive it.
Sergio will be back in El Paso in November, 2013 for a community-wide reading event featuring his book This Wicked Patch of Dust.