Cal Humanities

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

A Library Innovation Lab Reunion at CLA 2023

On June 2-3, we attended the California Library Association’s (CLA) annual conference, to connect with library professionals and friends across the state and to participate in conversations about how the library world can build and is building resilient futures.  

Taking place this year in our state capitol of Sacramento, the CLA’s annual conference brings together hundreds of librarians, library employees, library students, friends group members, trustees, retirees, as well as members of the general public who wish to support California libraries. 

Conference banner hanging on a white wall

CLA welcome banner above the entrance to the conference exhibit hall. CLA is focused on “advancing the library field and helping library staff develop the knowledge and skills needed to work for 21st century libraries.”

Kerri Young

Exterior of the SAFE Credit Union Conference Center 

Kerri Young

Exterior of a large convention center from across the street, with a biker seen in the foreground.

This year’s conference theme “Sustaining Our People, Planet, and Performance Into the Future” was reflected in the topics addressed in many presentations and panels, including one we organized. On Saturday, June 3, three Library Innovation Lab (LIL) program alumni – Sonia Bautista of Commerce Public Library (one of our current mentors), Yvonne Becerra of Ventura County Public Library, and Eric Cardoso of Long Beach Public Library – shared how they have been able to continue the work they initiated with their LIL projects at a session moderated by Felicia Kelley titled After the Money Runs Out: Sustaining Innovative Programs Past the Pilot Period. The session, attended by over 50 people, also provided an opportunity to raise awareness about the LIL program and invite participation in next year’s cohort. Other sessions featured additional LIL alumni, including Krystal Messer of Los Angeles Public Library, Charmaine Mendez now at Riverside Public Library, and Curita Tinker of Anaheim Public Library. It was wonderful to see so many program alumni recognized as leaders in the California library community.  

The conference also provided an ideal opportunity to connect with alumni of our LIL program from across the state, many of whom were traveling into Sacramento for the conference. Now in its seventh year, LIL is a nationally recognized California Humanities program that supports public libraries and public library professionals as they provide welcoming experiences to newcomers and strive to build more inclusive communities. On Friday, June 2, we welcomed LIL participants and colleagues at a hosted gathering at the California Museum (1020 O Street), just steps away from the state capitol building. 

Man with red button up shirt smiles for the camera holding a cirtificate
Eric Cardoso of Long Beach Public Library holds a certificate of participation for Library Innovation Lab.

LIL participants fulfill a range of roles at their libraries, ranging from teen, children’s and adult services librarians, to branch managers and directors, to bookmobile and literacy program coordinators, and this event was a fun opportunity for this diverse group of library professionals to share their LIL experiences and talk about life at their libraries while enjoying some snacks and beverages! It was very gratifying to connect with so many graduates of the program and to hear about their recent accomplishments, including several promotions, and how their experiences with LIL have enhanced their personal and professional growth.  

Several alums brought other librarians who are interested in participating in next year’s cohort, and we were delighted that Veronda Pitchford, Associate Director of CALIFA, an enthusiastic supporter of the program, was able to join us.  

Check out more photos below: 

Project & Evaluation Director Felicia Kelley and Associate Program Officer Kirsten Vega greeting the group at the California Museum, June 2, 2023.
Curita Tinker (Anaheim Public Library), Eric Cardoso (Long Beach Public Library), Felicia Kelley (California Humanities), Yvonne Becerra (Ventura County Library), Veronda Pitchford (CALIFA).
Woman with shoulder legnth brown hair wearing terra cotta colored cardigan poses next to women with long black hair and glasses wearing a short sleeved pink shirt
Library Innovation Lab mentors Erin Sanders, Head of the History Center at Oakland Public Library and Patricia Mallari, Librarian at San Leandro Public Library
Woman with long black hair and jean jacket poses next to women with black hair in a ponytail, glasses, and blue lanyard around her neck.
Jamie Kurumaji and Isariya Locke of Fresno County Public Library.
Guests sit at round black tables looking towards a speaker at the front of the room.
Library Innovation Lab reunion participants.
A man wearing a black long sleeve shirt, a woman with tan cardigan and blue lanyard, and woman with green tshirt pose for the camera.
(rightmost) Kate McMillen, Arroyo Grand Library with Susana Lewis and Ivan Llamas from San Luis Obispo Library.
Ten people pose for the camera standing in front of a large screen.
Library Innovation Lab participants with California Humanities’ Kirsten Vega and Felicia Kelley.

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