April 19, 2018

Ignacio Albarracin | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Digital Developers

Ignacio Albarracin


Digital Services Coordinator, San Antonio Public Library, TX

MLIS, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, 2008

Ebooks for Every Traveler guides.mysapl.org/librarykiosk; @Bibliopolitik; or search for his byline at mysanantonio.com

Photo by Bob Stefko

Unconventional Outreach

Ignacio Albarracin, digital services coordinator at San Antonio Public Library (SAPL), knew the library’s digital resources were woefully underused. Albarracin wanted to change that. “We decided…to target potential users in a strategic setting where we could get [their] full attention—San Antonio International Airport,” he says.

Because many travelers report that charging their mobile devices is a key need at the airport, Albarracin forged a partnership between PowerTower, which provides charging stations, and digital content provider OverDrive. The result: three airport kiosks that debuted in fall 2014 at which travelers can both recharge their devices and borrow ebooks and audiobooks from SAPL.

What makes these touch screen kiosks unique is that users don’t have to be SAPL members to borrow ebooks. Albarracin worked with OverDrive to create a temporary library card—good for 24 hours and three titles, with access to checked-out items for seven days—so nonmembers can borrow materials, too.

“The public response has been tremendously positive,” says Albarracin. People borrow from the kiosks 65 percent more than they do from kiosks located inside the libraries, he says.

This isn’t the first time Albarracin has created unconventional outreach and services. As branch manager at SAPL’s Cortez branch, he tackled the growing prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and teen pregnancy among working-class, Spanish-speaking San Antonians.

First, Albarracin regularly wrote health articles for the local news outlet Southside Reporter. “What particularly impressed me…is how he leveraged them into something bigger,” says Ramiro Salazar, director of SAPL. “He consulted with local community health organizations for background information…and to [understand] the issues and who the local players were. [Then] he found ways to embed our library system into these community health initiatives to amplify their effectiveness.”

For example, Albarracin brought the South Texas Area Health Education Center into the library to hold multiple Spanish-language focus groups on health issues, which he facilitated. The results were shared with health researchers. He also partnered with the University of Texas Teen Health Program to recruit teenagers to join an advisory board to develop strategies to reduce teen pregnancy rates in San Antonio’s Southside neighborhood.

Albarracin fervently believes libraries can serve as a catalyst for dramatic socioeconomic changes. “I don’t just want to be a positive influence,” he says. “I want to change the trajectory of individuals, families, and communities. Our job isn’t to soften the negative effects of the status quo—it’s to change the status quo.”

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. Congratulations, Ignacio!

  2. Inspiring work!

  3. DL Grant Jr says:

    You’ve done us proud, representing the South Texas library community the way that you have. Way to go!

  4. Congratulations Ignacio !

  5. Strong work! Keep it going!