Washington, DC – This morning, REFORMA – The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking named Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico Legislator of the Year for his ongoing commitment to improving library services at the national and local levels.
Congressman Luján gained the attention of the REFORMA Legislative Committee when he introduced U.S. House Bill H.R. 3496 (Public Library Innovation Space Act) to promote the development of maker-spaces in public libraries. Although the bill did not become law, REFORMA and the library community acknowledges the work that Congressman Luján has done to improve library services for all, including the Latino and Spanish-Speaking communities in his area. REFORMA acknowledges the Congressman’s actions to help secure and ship 1,500 titles from the Library of Congress after the La Farge Branch of the Santa Fe Public Library lost 2,000 children’s books and Spanish books due to floods. In addition, REFORMA acknowledges his support for DREAMers by being a proud co-sponsor of the American Dream and Promise Act to keep the doors of opportunity open for DREAMers and to keep our families together; bringing stability to the 17,000 individuals across New Mexico and hundreds of thousands of people across the country.
“Congressman Luján has demonstrated enormous support for libraries at the national level and in our home state of New Mexico. We are ecstatic that he is receiving this honor,” said Flo Trujillo, President of the REFORMA de Nuevo Mexico Chapter and Youth Services Coordinator at the Farmington Public Library. “The Congressman always signed the Dear Appropriator Letters in the past to support LSTA funding and I know we can continue to depend on his support in the future,” said Mario Ascencio Chair of the American Library Association Committee on Legislation and Chair of the REFORMA Legislative Committee. “This is only the second time REFORMA has awarded this honor and we are excited to recognize Congressman Lujan’s work for Latinos and libraries,” said Madeline Peña, REFORMA President.
The event was held in the beautiful Hispanic Reading Room located at the Library of Congress. REFORMA members from various parts of the country, including two of Congressman Luján’s constituents from New Mexico, were present for the event. The announcement of the award was made the previous day during the one-day REFORMA Institute and at the onset of the American Library Association Annual Conference both held in Washington, DC.
During the acceptance speech, Congressman Luján shared:
“Libraries are the cornerstone of where learning should be taking place.”
“My advocacy comes from librarians who made a difference in my life when I was young. Librarians, everyday, you pull students aside–people of all kinds, answering questions about what this administration might do to them because they’re afraid of what will happen to their life because they were born on the other side of the line.”
“Libraries, in my opinion, are the answer.”
Established in 1971, REFORMA has actively sought to promote the development of library collections to include Spanish-language and Latino-oriented materials; the recruitment of more bilingual and bicultural library professionals and support staff; the development of library services and programs that meet the needs of the Latino community; the establishment of a national information and support network among individuals who share our goals; the education of the U.S. Latino population with regard to the availability and types of library services; and lobbying efforts to preserve existing library resource centers serving the interests of Latinos. For more information on REFORMA, visit reforma.org.