On her quest, she encounters the very profound, individual, and structural face of discrimination and the debasing effects of denial of information and library services to Latinos and minorities—let them pay taxes, but don’t let them in the library!
It is the story of Elizabeth Irene Martínez, an early Latina pioneer administrator in the library world—and a leading advocate of library services to Hispanics and the Mexican and Latino communities. She witnessed and suffered racial hostilities and fought the denial of library services to minorities. The story includes the spiritual strength she drew from her ancestors, her vigor, which helped her to stave off the professional criticism. This compelling narrative documents her struggles to provide library services to the underserved populations and the contentious issues that divided American librarianship then, and today, its persistent inability to recognize and serve diverse communities, the Latino population in particular. It also documents the hostile response and backlash from the white leading administrators and library board members to her legitimate demands. Her account is a story of enduring professional friendships, an indictment of the library profession, bitter betrayals, and overt racial discrimination by leaders of the American public libraries.
This book comes at an appropriate time when bigotry, racial discrimination, and inequities in public services have driven to exasperation victimized minorities and people of good conscience. When the wounds of racial divisions, lack of services, and conflict in American institutions—often very well hidden to this day in American libraries—have come opened and bleed shame, discontent, anger, if not remorse, sorrow, and regret. On June 26, 2020, four days before this book went to press, and about 144 years after its founding, The American Library Association (ALA), very likely forced by the unprecedented racial demonstrations in the streets of America, has issued a declaration of responsibility: "ALA takes responsibility for past racism, pledges a more equitable association." However, will the status quo change?
Hers is a Chicana chronicle, a Latina woman’s story, an American story. It is a tale mainly written on the open stage of American libraries over the last four decades. The White entrenched library world saw her mission of diversity and expanding services to minorities as aggression to white dominance over budget and services. She hopes that young people of all ethnicities, races, and cultures who are entering any profession striving for changes to address multicultural communities will find in her story inspiring to fight for a racially inclusive and pluralistic society.