Elizabeth Martinez

Fall 2023 Convocation Speaker

Elizabeth Martinez's memoir "A Jaguar in the Library" tells the story of extraordinary experiences in the library profession to include representation of people of color in the culture, collections and positions of influence. From the first nationally recognized 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. She has a master's degree in Library Science from the University of Southern Californian. She has been a Lecturer at UCLA, the University of Arizona, and San Jose State University.

Elizabeth established four ethnic resource centers in Los Angeles County Public Library that thrive today - American Indian, Asian Pacific Islander, Black, and Chicano. She built nine libraries in Orange County, California, and opened the renovated and expanded 500,000 square foot Central Library for the City of Los Angeles. At the ALA, she established the only national scholarships for Native Americans, African American, Asian and Latino/ Spanish Speaking librarians - the Spectrum Scholarship. Her proposal to Bill Gates secured $200 million for computers and technology training for 4000 libraries in poor areas throughout the country for the millennium. She fundraised for a new Cesar Chavez Library in the farmworker and "Dust Bowl" resident community in a northern CA agricultural city that opened n 2012. 

In New Mexico (NM) since 2015, Elizabeth was appointed by the Governor to the State Library Commission and was the first President of the NM State Library Foundation. The NM Library Association presented her with the Amigo Award in 2022 for successful increase in funding by the Legislature for rural Bookmobile services, producing PSAs for Dia de Los Ninos/ Dia de los Libros (Day of the Children/Day of the Book's 20th anniversary.  partnership with the Knowledge River program at the U of Arizona and the Navajo Torreon Library, and assisting the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts with their library collection.  

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 including from the California State Legislature, and the ALA. Her archives are at Stanford University.