public library love

When I was little, I spent summers with my grandma in South Texas. We would walk to the library and spend hours together looking for books, reading, and searching for recipes and facts on the computers together. We’d carry our haul back home and the books gave me days of company and entertainment.

My grandma loves the library. I love my grandma and she taught me to love the library too.

I moved around a lot because my step-father was in the Navy. Friends came and went, along with schools, bedrooms, and neighbors. I could always find comfort in my local library.

We ended up living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and when I moved out at 17, I got busy. Busy with college, busy working multiple jobs, busy with friends, busy with life. The library on campus became my new safe place and a workplace. Sometimes I pulled all-nighters there during exam weeks. But mostly I did work-study, helping students in the Writing Center and scanning old photographs and slides in Special Collections. While I found my career in the academic library, I stopped going to the public library.

Eight years passed as I finished college, moved across the country to DC, then LA, went to grad school, and worked in academic libraries. Then I woke up and rediscovered my love of public libraries. Around that time, I started working with 10 public libraries in the US and Canada.

Three years later, I now work with over a thousand public library systems all over the world. And I often wonder, how many other people lost touch with their public library love? Have they found it again? And how many people never developed this love in the first place? Why didn’t they?

I talk about public libraries often, with friends, with strangers. People tell me so many different stories about their relationships with public libraries. Some people have stories like mine, stories of using the library as a sanctuary while young. One of these people recently told me, “If someone talks shit about libraries to you, tell me, and I’ll bust their kneecaps!” At age 7, this person’s parents found them at their small town library after thinking they were missing all day. They were reading and hiding from bullies.

Most people don’t have love stories like that though. Many people are disconnected from their library. They didn’t go growing up and they don’t go now. They don’t know what libraries have to offer, what’s there to love. I don’t blame them though because when we search the Web, use apps, and talk to Siri or OK Google, libraries rarely show up as an option. And maybe they don’t have a grandma that loves the library. It’s easy to not know, or forget what’s there.

So I gently recommend books I’ve checked out recently. If they complain about a commute, I tell them about free audio books. If they like movies, I tell them about the library’s streaming services. If they’re looking for a job, I tell them about access and other learning services the library offers. If they have kids, I tell them about great children books and events. Without judgment, I try to help them create their own public library love.

Please Don’t Call Me a Vendor

This is the text version of a tweet thread I wrote on my way back home from the 2017 DLF Forum in Pittsburg.

These are my feelings about toxic anti-vendor sentiment in libraries and archives that I’ve been keeping to myself for the past 3 years…

In 2014, I left my job as a digital archivist at an academic library to start working for a start-up company that was born out of a company that did consulting work for libraries.

Overnight, I stopped being one of “us” and became one of “them.” Since then, I’ve acutely felt the anti-vendor stuff that I was already well aware of from working in libraries & archives.

I’ve been quietly dealing with constant microaggressions & fighting the perception that I’m dirty/evil/unworthy of respect because I work for a company. The most common thing librarians/archivists tell me with a smile & twinkle in their eye is that I’ve “gone to the dark side.”

I wonder if this is an outcome of a problem Fobazi Ettarh named as vocational awe.

When you say I’ve gone to the dark side, are you telling me that your job will go to heaven & mine will go to hell when we die?

I get it, I really do. There are very serious issues in the vendor community (sexual harassment, proprietary formats/software, gender inequality, and it’s white af, to name a few).

Before this job, I would use the word “vendor” with a venomous V & looked down upon vendors because I felt that they weren’t as righteous as me. But I didn’t just get to that point by myself… I picked it up from my coworkers & mentors in libraries along with the other things they taught me.

I can’t begin to explain how painful it feels to be someone who’s made this transition. I started working in libraries and archives when I was 18. People in the community that I grew up in, that I got 90k in student loans for just so I can be a part, now treat me like shit on the reg.

But honestly, I can’t handle this type of toxic behavior anymore & for the first time, at #DLFforum, I stood up for myself.

Someone I just met but knew of me from my past work said with disgust, “oh you work for a VENDOR now? You went to the dark side!” I told them that I prefer to use the term “service provider” and that it makes me feel dirty when librarians/archivists say things like that to me all the time.


This us VS them mentality does NOTHING to help the people that we are ALL working to serve TOGETHER.

If you hate vendors, please read up on white supremacist capitalist patriarchy so you can funnel your anger into the right direction.

And from now on, don’t come at me with this BS!

Embedding Resources: Aristotle


Boston University Libraries: Aristotle the Person

Boston University Libraries: Items about Aristotle (Carousel)

Boston University Libraries: Items about Aristotle (Grid)

Boston University Libraries: Items about Aristotle (List)

Boston University Libraries: Items about Aristotle (Card)

Los Angeles Archivists Collective Interview

My friend @littleclamator interviewed me for @laacollective‘s new PERSON/PLACE/THING blog series

— Gloria Gonzalez (@InformaticMonad) June 8, 2015  

I met Mary Haberle last year in Palm Springs at the Society of California Archivists Annual Meeting. Mary was new to LA back then. She’s originally from Canada and moved here from New York City, where she’d been living and working as an archivist. Now she works as a project archivist at the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Our professional interests aligned and we quickly became friends.

Mary has all of the features that make a great friend. She is genuine, encouraging and honest. She’s creative, curious, and patient too. And don’t forget to add her adorable Labradoodle, Winnie into the mix!

Mary and I love to meet up for brunch occasionally and discuss all things archives. Recently, Mary turned some the topics that come up in our discussions into questions, and interviewed me for the new blog series, PERSON/PLACE/THING published by the Los Angeles Archivists Collective. Here’s our conversation:


the top 10 things I don’t let stop me from getting things done (with digital archives)

This morning, I presented this list at the 2014 Society of American Archivists conference in Washington DC before a question and answer session with my colleagues Brian Dietz, Jason Evans Groth, Ashley Howdeshell, Dan Noonan, and Lauren Sorensen. We had a great time talking to the audience. Questions and answers are fun! Which reminds me, if you ever have a question about digital archives or digital preservation–please take advantage of this great resource created by the National Digital Stewardship Alliance Innovation Group:

I was surprised and grateful to receive an overwhelming amount of positive responses to the list. My Twitter notifications went off the chart. To all of those people tweeting: thank you for helping to spread the word! I never said a lot of these things out loud before writing the list, so your kind comments were very encouraging, and I appreciate the support. 

Many people asked me to share my list online. Ask, and you shall receive. Honestly, I winged it during the session, but here are the notes I used:

Hello, I’m Gloria Gonzalez–the digital archivist at UCLA Library Special Collections. (The program says I work at UC Irvine, but that’s okay because my driver’s license says I’m 5′ 6. I’ll take it as a compliment because UC Irvine is awesome–go Anteaters!)

First, let me provide a little context: in 2010, the UCLA Library (under the leadership of Tom Hyry) joined five units together. The Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences, the Center for Oral History Research, the Performing Arts Special Collections, the Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections and the University Archives united to form Library Special Collections. That means I basically work with everything under the sun.

A la Susan Sontag, I wrote a list for you. Here are the top 10 things I don’t let stop me from getting things done (with digital archives).

10. “the sky is falling” mentality | Which goes like this: “the bits are rotting; the bits are rotting!” It’s 2014, and the vast majority of archivists couldn’t care less about saving and providing access to digital files. When feeling like Chicken Little, I remind myself that this is probably not a life or death dilemma.

9. professional status | I began leading digital archiving initiatives during grad school at UCLA. I have now employed several graduate students from the UCLA Information Studies program to work with digital collections (shout-out to recent grads Beth McDonald and Lori Dedeyan, who have both done amazing work with our digital collections). If you manage students well, empower them, and trust them, you will see wonders.

8. lack of practical experience | Sure, I took classes, attended workshops, and read the literature–but I never touched a write blocker before ordering one for Library Special Collections a little over two years ago.

7. that one time I set a write-blocker on fire | Mistakes are unavoidable, so I use them to my advantage by openly laughing at myself and sharing my failures.

6. deficiency of technological knowledge | What I do have is a philosophy degree, which came with technological curiosity, an experimental outlook, a love of uncertainty, the desire to learn, and the well-crafted ability to Google.

5. age, gender, and background | If you haven’t noticed already: I am young, female, and my last name ends in -EZ. These things come in handy occasionally, but not in information technology work where women and people of color are truly disadvantaged. Instead of dwelling, I focus on being a good role model and enjoy knowing that the potential to change the unconscious biases of others is an inherent byproduct of my work.

4. haters | (Haters out there, you know who you are.) When you work amongst incredible rare books and manuscripts, judgemental people can make you feel lame for being the one person in the corner of the room saying “Uh, hey y’all, what about all these floppy disks?” Haters motivate me to prove that my work is complementary to traditional roles and responsibilities.

3. impostor syndrome | Symptoms include chronic self-doubt and feelings of intellectual fraudulence. Even on good days, it’s easy to feel like an ignoramus disguised as one of the best digital archivists in the country.

2. the absence of a Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device (FRED) and a formal digital preservation policy | One of these things is essential to long-term success, and the other isn’t–but it does make you look cool. I’m proud to be FRED free. As far as digital preservation policy goes, I found that the interests of library administration and other campus stakeholders increase tenfold with researchers knocking on the door asking to use the stuff.

1. FEAR | Getting things done with digital archives can be terrifying, especially at first. I’ll finish by giving you all my now not-so-secret-weapon. To face anxieties, I use the Litany Against Fear from Frank Herbert’s novel Dune.