This week, the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office announced that Lori Rivas of Newhall, CA is the winner of the 2017 White House Conference on Library and Information Services (WHCLIST) Award. Given to a non-librarian participant attending National Library Legislative Day, the award covers hotel fees and includes $300 stipend to defray the cost of attending the event.
A lifelong library user, Rivas has spent the last seven years advocating for her library. This passion for libraries grew out of many years of library use:
“For 20 years, I homeschooled my children, depending on public library resources and programming. In 2010, our city, Santa Clarita, CA, proposed contracting with a private company for the management of our public libraries. All my momma bear energy and activism juices were galvanized into the fight to keep our local public libraries truly public.”
In response to this proposed contract, Rivas helped to organize a campaign that gained national attention. She secured a private audience with Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich and CA State Senator Bob Huff (R-29th District), and was interviewed by the Washington Post. Later advocacy efforts led her to testify before the California State Governance and Finance Committee for the passage of AB438. She has campaigned for library services during local elections, written to local media, and undertaken many other tasks in support of libraries. Her advocacy work eventually led her to become a library consultant for the Southern California Library Cooperative (SCLC), where among other projects she helped convert LSTA grants into work plans and timetables, ensuring the successful implementation of LSTA grants and giving her insight into the importance of LSTA funding.
Looking toward the future, Rivas hopes to pursue her MLIS, to better combine her interests: “education, activism, public service, government work, writing, and advocating for the disenfranchised.”
The White House Conference on Library and Information Services—an effective force for library advocacy nationally, statewide and locally—transferred its assets to the ALA Washington Office in 1991 after the last White House conference. These funds allow ALA to participate in fostering a spirit of committed, passionate library support in a new generation of library advocates. Leading up to National Library Legislative Day each year, the ALA seeks nominations for the award. Representatives of WHCLIST and the ALA Washington office choose the recipient.