Lisa Valdez, who grew up in South Los Angeles and experienced life in Cambodia, was motivated by these experiences to contribute to the Outreach program as the new librarian at Pierce College.
Valdez began her employment on August 31st, in her first academic librarian position where she helps at the reference desk, locates books, researches information and provides resources.
Paula Paggi, Pierce College’s Library Department Chair, also assigned Valdez to run the “War Comes Home” program where she connects with counselors that work with first year experience students.
“She is a pleasure to work with,” Paggi said. “She brings good energy and enthusiasm to the department. She is energetic, flexible and full of good ideas. She enjoys working with students too.”
Valdez was formerly a public community librarian for six years but her passions always lay in college and career development.
Although the library is located on the Pierce College campus, Valdez receives calls from across the nation for information on books and resources. Pierce’s campus library is open to the students as well as the public community.
“I want to provide accessibility for information and resources to as many underserved groups as I can,” Valdez said.
Valdez’s experience as a 10-year-old child in elementary school led her to the path she is on today. She stated how she was a product of the No Child Left Behind Act, describing an incident in which a teacher refused to teach her and dismissed her from the classroom because of her ethnicity. She was led out of the school by her mother and transferred to another school. Her mother, who joined the new school’s PTA, made sure Valdez was able to continue her education without being treated unfairly because of her ethnicity.
“I never want any child to experience that. I know that with so many cultures migrating and living here, it’s an adjustment for people to get used to so many of the different cultures,” Valdez said. “People say ‘You’re in America now,’ and yes we do things a certain way, but people should never dismiss or get rid of their culture.”
Valdez received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology at California State University Dominguez Hills. During her college career, Susan Needham, CSUDH’s Librarian Chair and an anthropology professor, mentored her. Needham influenced Valdez to be involved in outreach programs where she did field work and observations in anthropology.
She was then given the opportunity to travel abroad in Cambodia for a summer to learn about different cultures through the school’s program. Although she was ready and willing to explore, her husband agreed to only send her off to Cambodia if he traveled along. The couple exchanged vows a second time in Cambodia, experiencing marriage in a different culture.
“This trip gave me tools to understand a variety of backgrounds and I developed a tolerance for different ways of communication and learning abilities,” Valdez said.
Whenever she traveled, Valdez took the time to view the resources and books the community had to offer. She has visited libraries in Texas, Hawaii, New Orleans and Chicago.
She continued her education with a scholarship to UCLA and graduated with a master’s degree in information library science.
Valdez worked in law enforcement as a 911 dispatcher during her time as a student. In graduate school Valdez was also involved in the Nidorf Collective Committee, an outreach program where she provided book donations and resources to juveniles at a detention center in Sylmar, Calif. Because of her interest in different cultures, Valdez assists in many avenues in the community.
Valdez assists her hometown friend, Ida Humphrey, with her non-profit organization, Bright Star, which runs a debutante and cotillion scholarship program. In the six-month program, Valdez helps teach young people etiquette, dancing, resume writing, and career and college planning. They also have taken trips to different cultural events and museums. Valdez and Bright Star are looking forward to their sixth cotillion on Oct. 17th in Gardena, Calif. Valdez stated that she and Humphrey remain dedicated to educating the youth of the community.
Valdez plans to use her experiences to expand outreach at Pierce College.
“She has jumped right in with ideas and projects,” Clay Gediman, Technology Librarian at Pierce said.
Valdez is looking forward to bringing students at Pierce College more accessibility to resources by getting a “book bike,” a bike with an attached carrier to transport books throughout the campus. The book bike will allow students to be informed about the databases, services, programs and also present free giveaways.
“With an outreach focus, she will be very instrumental in integrating the library’s resources with other departments and growing the library services in general,” Gediman said.