This week, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Washington Office announced that Yolanda Peña-Mendrek of Oakley, California is the winner of the 2018 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 a $300 stipend to defray the cost of attending the event.
An active library advocate and a member of the Friends of the Oakley Library, Peña-Mendrek was appointed as the Contra Costa County Library Commissioner in 2017. In her first year as Library Commissioner, she helped raise funds to support five branch libraries serving fast growing parts of the county.
A retired teacher, Peña-Mendrek is a firm believer in the importance of a good education and access to information. After she became a teacher, she got to see librarians working firsthand with the students at her school, as well as through the local library. She sees libraries as a place where people from all walks of life have the opportunity to expand their knowledge, and strongly believes that elected officials need to hear about the services libraries provide for their communities. Upon learning that she would be the recipient of the 2018 WHCLIST award, she had this to say:
I feel humbled and extremely honored to receive this scholarship to be able to represent my community, and to be their voice on this National Library Legislative Day 2018.
Beyond her involvement with the local libraries, Peña-Mendrek has also served a number of other organizations in her community, including the National Association of Latinos Elected and Appointed Officials, the California School Board Association, and the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages.
Now that she is retired, Peña-Mendrek wants to put her energy to use by continuing to support her community’s access to libraries. We look forward to having her attend National Library Legislative Day 2018, where she will join other attendees from California to advocate on behalf of libraries.
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 choose the recipient.