February 17, 2018

Loida García-Febo | Movers & Shakers 2007

Yo Soy Queens Library


You’ll see Loida García-Febo’s face on New York City buses with the message, ‘Yo soy Queens Library.’ She could almost have been tailor-made to be the face of Queens Library for its multiethnic community. Born in Puerto Rico to a school librarian, she’s totally bilingual and completely committed to library service for all.

‘When we hired her,’ says Fred Gitner, her supervisor, ‘she was working in Puerto Rico as head of the disabilities unit at the university library. While she was in college there, she was organizing intercultural events.’ As part of Queens’s New Americans Program, García-Febo has helped grow the Spanish-language collection, stage festivals for the Spanish-speaking community, build relationships with community organizations, and translate the library’s web site and public relations materials into Spanish. She also speaks at conferences and workshops throughout the country about Queens Library’s proven strategies for serving Spanish-speaking residents.

Having seen firsthand ‘how important libraries are to immigrant communities here, for everything from literacy classes, job postings, readings, or as a place for kids to do their homework,’ García-Febo was outraged by the Sensenbrenner bill that would have required librarians to demand proof of citizenship before offering service. ‘We are not the immigration police,’ she says. ‘Our mission is to serve the community.’

Not only did she lead a public relations campaign to reassure people that Queens Library would remain open to everyone, she helped REFORMA develop a ‘Librarian’s Toolkit for Responding to Anti-Immigrant Sentiment’ (www.reforma.org/ToolkitPartI.htm). She now brings that same zeal to serving the elderly, disabled, and imprisoned and helps coordinate Queens Library HealthLink, a project to increase access to cancer screening and care among medically underserved communities.

García-Febo is just as concerned with our profession’s future. She cofounded IFLA’s New Professional Discussion Group and entered an LIS Ph.D. program in order to ‘open doors for fellow new professionals to serve their communities and professional organizations in more effective ways.’ She hopes to enable people from different ethnic backgrounds to obtain B.A. and LIS degrees.

And she’s having a wonderful time doing it. ‘I am still a new librarian who loves her job and plans to stay in the profession – no ‘bun’ intended!’




CURRENT POSITION Assistant Coordinator, Special Services, Queens Library, NY

DEGREES MLS, University of Puerto Rico, 1999; Ph.D. student, Long Island University

MEMBER REFORMA, International Federation of Library Associations & Institutions (IFLA)’s New Professionals Discussion Group, and American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Round Table

VOLUNTEER Spanish-language translator collaborator for IFLA/Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression