Library Workers: Organize and Activate

ALA Presidential Program - Main Stage

Sunday, January 29
8:30am - 9:45am



Top row: K.C. Boyd, Lesley Garrett
Bottom row: Candice (Wing-yee) Mack, Elizabeth Martinez

Top: ALA President Lessa Kanani'opua Pelayo-Lozada 

Bottom: ALA President-Elect Emily Drabinski

> View in the LibLearnX Program

Photo of Panelists K.C. Boyd, Leslie Garrett, Candice (Wing-yee) Mack, Elizabeth Martinez, and Moderators ALA President Lessa Kanani'opua Pelayo-Lozada and ALA President-Elect Emily Drabinski

Organizing and activism is in the foundation of libraries and library workers. We organize materials of all types for collections and archives. We organize people for programs and classes. We also organize ourselves for advocacy, fair wages, fair treatment, and more. At our best, we are frontline activists defending intellectual freedom, the right to read, and equal access to information for everyone in our communities. Hear from those who have made big change by working together to make a better world and are familiar with library workers organizing and advocating for themselves―from the National Associations of Librarians of Color to unionizing to starting a new Round Table―to better understand where we came from, how we got here, and where we can go next.


K.C. Boyd is currently a school librarian with the District of Columbia Public Schools System.  She has previously worked as the Lead Librarian for the East St. Louis School District #189 in East St. Louis, IL., an Area Library Coordinator for Chicago Public Schools, and a District Coordinator for the Mayor Daley Book Club for Middle School Students.  She is a second-generation educator and holds Master’s degrees in Library Information Science, Media Communications, and Education Leadership.  Boyd is currently the national 2022 School Library Journal, “Librarian of the Year.” 

Boyd currently serves on the executive boards for the District of Columbia Library Association and Washington Teachers Union.  She is an active committee member for the American Library Association Chapter Council representing Washington D.C. and EveryLibrary Institute/Advisory Board. Boyd is also a member of the District of Columbia Public Schools Library Corps and serves on the AASL School Library Event Promotion Committee. Boyd currently is a National Ambassador representing the Washington D.C. area for Checkology Virtual Classroom and The News Literacy Project.  

A staunch advocate for school libraries, she is widely known and respected for her work with educating parents, teachers, and district officials on promoting leisure reading for children and teens. Additionally, she is a sought-after and popular keynote speaker and conference presenter at the local, state, and national levels.  It is Boyd’s belief that all children, despite economic circumstances, have the right to read and should have access to books that reflect themselves and encourage inquiry.  Boyd can be reached through her website:

Lesley Garrett (they/them) has been a public library worker since 2014 and is currently a Library Associate II at Seattle Public Library as well as a Reference Assistant at Seattle Central College. Prior to moving to Seattle to work on their MLIS at the University of Washington, Lesley was the Bookmobile and Outreach Coordinator at McCracken County Public Library in Paducah, Kentucky. In this role, they focused on projects such as digital toolkits designed for people who have recently experienced incarceration. In addition to library work, Lesley has also been a community organizer since 2017. They have published with American Libraries and presented for the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) about the overlap those experiences have with library services, particularly how Disability Justice Principles can shape programming design. In their academic work, Lesley is researching de-escalation practices and frontline staff wellbeing in public libraries, anti-racist safety technology UX, and the role of public libraries in climate crisis response.

Candice (Wing-yee) Mack manages system-wide Young Adult Services at the Los Angeles Public Library. She is humbled and thrilled to be a Member-at-Large on the Public Library Association’s (PLA) Board of Directors, the current Chair of YALSA’s Morris Debut Award Committee, and a past President of the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). Candice co-authored the “Civics in Society” chapter in Media Literacy for Justice: Lessons for Changing the World (2022), based on the Teens Leading Change civic engagement initiative she created at her library. Candice has taught at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies since 2014, is a former member of San José State University’s Youth Services Program Advisory Committee, a former reviewer for Kirkus and Booklist, a 2012 ALA Emerging Leader, and a 2006 ALA Spectrum Scholar. She was also an inaugural member of the ALA Library Advocacy & Policy Corps, a member of the 2018 We Need Diverse Books Walter Dean Myers Award jury, and a member of the 2018 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award jury. Her commitment to community, diversity, connected learning, social justice, youth development, and an unusual coincidence led her to pursue public librarianship. Online, she may be found on Twitter and Mastodon @tinylibrarian.

Elizabeth Martinez's memoir "A Jaguar in the Library," tells the story of extraordinary experiences as the first Chicano librarian to Executive Director of the American Library Association (ALA) representing "America's Libraries." Elizabeth has left her footprints and spirit in every position held:  Establishing four ethnic resource centers in Los Angeles County Public Library that thrive today - American Indian, Asian Pacific Islander, Black, Chicano; Building nine public libraries in Orange County CA; Opening the new 500,000 square foot Central Library in Los Angeles.  At ALA, she established national scholarships for Native American, African American, Asian, and Latino/ Spanish Speaking librarians - the Spectrum Scholarships at ALA, and secured $200 million from Bill Gates for computers and technology training for 4000 library systems throughout the nation in poor areas. She secured funding for a new Cesar Chavez Library in the farmworker and "Dust Bowl" resident community in a northern CA agricultural community in 2012. She has been a Lecturer at UCLA, San Jose State University, and the University of Arizona. 

In NM since 2015, she was appointed to the State Library Commission and was the first president of the NM State Library Foundation.  She advocated for Bookmobile services with the Legislature, produced with filmmaker friends PSA videos for Dia de Los Ninos/ Dia de Los Libro's 20th anniversary, connected the Knowledge River program at the U of Arizona to provide an intern to assist the Navajo Torreon library, and assisted the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts to catalog the rare book library collection. She received the NMLA Amigo Award in 2022.

REFORMA, the National Association for Library Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking honored her with the Elizabeth Martinez Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the recipient of many awards and recognition and was inducted into the California Librarians Hall of Fame.  Her career papers are at Stanford University archives.


Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada, adult services assistant manager, Palos Verdes Library District, Rolling Hills Estates, California is the 2022-2023 president of the American Library Association (ALA).

Pelayo-Lozada is a past ALA executive board member (2017-2020) and was elected a councilor-at-large for three terms (2012-2015, 2015-2018, 2020-2023). She is a member of the 1876 Club, the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC), Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures (Core), the Public Library Association (PLA), the Rainbow Round Table, the Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table, and the Sustainability Round Table. She also is a member of several ALA Professional affiliates, including the Asian-Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), the Black Caucus American Library Association (BCALA), the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), American Indian Library Association (AILA), and The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking (REFORMA). She has held an ALA membership for more than 14 years.
Pelayo-Lozada was APALA Executive Director (2019-2022) and is a past president of APALA (2016-2017). She is a past chair of the Palos Verdes (Rolling Estates, California) Library District's BUILD Team, focusing on diversity and racial equity, and a Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Literature (CSMCL) board member (2012-present). She also is a 2011 ALA Emerging Leader.

Pelayo-Lozada holds an MLIS and a BA in sociology from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and an AA in philosophy from El Camino College, Torrance, California.

Emily Drabinski, Critical Pedagogy Librarian at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, is 2022-2023 president-elect of the American Library Association (ALA). Past ALA service includes a term as chair of the International Relations Committee (2020-21), ALA councilor-at-large (2018-20), and chair of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Information Literacy Frameworks and Standards Committee (2019-20).

Drabinski is a member of ACRL and Core (Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures). She co-chaired the ACRL President’s Program Planning Committee (2020-21) and serves as reviews editor for College & Research Libraries. She is also a member of several round tables: the International Relations Round Table (IRRT), the Library Support Staff Interests Round Table (LSSIRT), the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT), and the Sustainability Round Table (SustainRT). She is a life member of the ALA.

Drabinski is a member of several ALA affiliates: the Black Caucus of ALA (BCALA), REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking, the American Indian Library Association, the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association, and the Chinese American Librarians Association.

Drabinski holds an MLIS from Syracuse University, a BA in political science from Columbia University, and an MA in composition and rhetoric from Long Island University, Brooklyn.

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