A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

PLA Member Spotlights

by on November 30, 2023

Read about Public Library Association memberstheir PLA membership journey, new achievements, exciting projects they’re working on at their libraries, and their favorite parts about working at their libraries. Are you a PLA member and interested in being featured? Email ekleiman@ala.org for more information.

Latest Member Spotlight

November 30, 2023

Mary Ellen Icaza is the CEO & Executive Director Of the Stark Library in Canton, OH. Mary Ellen has been in this role since 2018. She presently serves on the boards of PLA and the Ohio Library Council. Prior to moving to OH, She worked in Maryland at Montgomery County Public Libraries in Rockville, MD. She received her MLS from the University of Maryland, College Park and her BA in English from The Catholic University of America.

What is a current project or initiative happening in your library that you are excited about or proud of?

“We are in the planning and design stage of building a new Main Library and Operations Center. I am excited about this project as we look ahead to the future to meet the needs of Stark County by updating buildings, upgrading technology, and creating flexible spaces.”

What is your favorite thing about working at your library?

“I am so proud of the work we do in public libraries. My favorite part of working at the library is the difference that we make in the community. Whether it’s seeing little ones jump up and down with the excitement of hearing a story, bringing books, educational help, and needed resources into homes throughout Stark County, connecting people who have been left behind by advancing technology, or seeing a spark spread through an audience listening to a new idea from a visiting author, it is impactful work!”


Member Spotlight Archive

September 7, 2023

Tamara King, MLIS, APR Chief Equity and Engagement Officer for Richland (SC) Library

Tamara King, MLIS, APR is the Chief Equity and Engagement Officer for Richland Library. In her role, she is tasked with the development and support of the library’s equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives, programs and partnerships. In addition to her role leading the library’s equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) efforts, Tamara also supports the library’s award-winning Let’s Talk Race Team. To date, the team has held discussions surrounding race, women’s rights and social justice for more than 4,000 participants and raised nearly $200,000 to support EDI initiatives and programming at the library.

Tamara currently serves as a Director-at-Large on the national Public Library Association Board.

“After months of hard work and intentionality, I am excited to share Richland Library’s free Let’s Talk Race Curriculum with everyone. I hope that people will use the curriculum to facilitate courageous and impactful conversations about race, racism and social justice. Our library’s efforts show there is real power in talking to each other and becoming more proximate with the diverse world around you.”

Check out the FYI Podcast episode about Let’s Talk Race featuring Tamara and Heather McCue, Children’s and Teens Services Manager at Richland Public Library.


August 10, 2023

The latest spotlight features two members whose libraries were recipients of the 2022 PLA Digital Literacy Workshop incentives. Access free digital literacy courses and training materials at PLA’s DigitalLearn.org and visit the PLA website to learn more about the PLA Digital Literacy Workshop Incentives.

Miranda Robbins is currently the Operations Manager at the New Braunfels Public Library and began her library career 7 years ago as a Digital Services Librarian. She has a passion for digital literacy and all things technology. Her favorite program is something called Device Advice where patrons can receive one-on-one help from library staff with all their devices and technology questions. The PLA Digital Literacy Workshop Incentive was the perfect program to further the library’s technology and digital literacy efforts.

“DigitalLearn aligns perfectly with our library’s mission of providing equitable access to digital literacy, technology, and information. DigitalLearn has played a critical role in our library by providing digital support and literacy. Our library will continue to use this resource in a variety of ways.”


Todd Miller is a Digital Services Librarian at Niles-Maine District Library, in Niles, IL, where he manages the library’s electronic resources and has started a Digital Navigation service program, working with members of the library community to bridge the digital divide by building computer skills and obtaining low-cost home internet and computers. He is the host of the library’s technology podcast, Tech Bytes, and is a recent graduate, with his MLIS degree, from Dominican University.

“We were able to reach members of the community who don’t often visit the library, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. We are planning to continue the partnership moving forward, continuing to offer programs at the Maine Township town hall. DigitalLearn is a great resource for presenting programs and not having to reinvent the wheel. It saves so much staff time to be able to modify an existing template rather than starting to plan a lesson from scratch.”


June 14, 2023

Member Spotlights from the ALA Annual Conference 2023 can be found here.


March 23, 2023

Ramiro S. Salazar is the director at San Antonio (Texas) Public Library. Ramiro is a former PLA President, currently serves on the Public Library Section of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, and is a frequent presenter and panelist at professional convenings.

On March 16, President Biden announced he will appoint Ramiro to the National Museum and Library Services Board. The Board advises the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which advances, supports, and empowers America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. PLA wants to congratulate Ramiro on this great honor and thank him for his continued dedication to public service.


March 9, 2023

Van McGary is the Adult & Teen Services Manager at Downers Grove Public Library in Illinois.“I absolutely love being a librarian and a manager. I am currently the Adult & Teen Services Manager at the Downers Grove Public Library in IL and am incredibly lucky to work with the most amazing team. We care about each other and about our community. We are dedicated to providing diverse collections, programs, and services that are equitable, inclusive, and responsive to our community. Our library is currently working on a new strategic plan, which will be informed by our Equity Strategic Plan. We are constantly evolving and striving to do better. To my colleagues, I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude and appreciation for everything you do day in and day out.”


January 30, 2023

Amy Mikel PLA Member Spotlight

Amy Mikel is the Director of Customer Experience at Brooklyn Public Library, responsible for implementing exceptional library services in the areas of reference, circulation and collections across 61 branch locations. She oversees the Library’s circulating print, media, digital and database collections as well as the processes and policies which govern patron account management and materials circulation.

Amy is a part of BPL’s Books Unbanned Team, which provides free e-book access to teens and young adults facing censorship and book challenges nationwide. “As a result of BPL’s Books Unbanned initiative, young people across the country have sent us thousands of stories about the censorship, access challenges, and marginalization they are experiencing where they live. Public libraries must do more to connect teens with the books they are desperate to read. A library card can truly change a life.”

Amy and the Books Unbanned Team were named 2023 Librarians of the Year by Library Journal. PLA members and magazine subscribers can read more about Books Unbanned in the latest Public Libraries issue!


January 12, 2023 – Meet the 2023 PLA Presidential Candidates

Michael Lambert is the first Asian American to serve as city librarian for the City and County of San Francisco, championing increased and equitable access to libraries. Previously, Michael managed library operations at San Mateo County Libraries in California and at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina. “I would like to serve as the president of the Public Library Association to share my passion for public service and my belief in the transformational power of libraries to help people live their best lives.”



Jessica Dorr is the director of the Boise Public Library in Boise, Idaho. Prior to joining the library, Jessica worked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in a variety of roles over two decades supporting libraries in the U.S. and internationally. Jessica stated, “My experience working with libraries around the world to collectively address shared challenges will help PLA achieve its mission of positioning libraries at the heart of communities.”


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