Congratulations to OYEA winner Violeta Garza!

Every year, OYAN recognizes an individual, library, program, or initiative that has made a positive and significant contribution to teens in libraries in the state of Oregon. The 2021 winner is Violeta Garza, former Youth Librarian with Multnomah County Library. Violeta is a fierce champion for youth in East County, the most underserved area of Multnomah County. Through her enthusiasm and kindness she provided a safe space and leadership opportunities for her youth. In 2015, she supported her White Lotus Japanese Club in the wildly successful teen-led White Lotus Con. One family even drove 50 miles from Silverton to Gresham for the event! The strong and meaningful relationships she has created with youth have continued long after they’ve moved on. 

The OYEA! Award includes a $100 donation to the teen services program of the recipient’s choice. Violeta has chosen to give that money to Family of Friends Mentoring in Gresham, OR.

Read more about what her colleagues and the teens have to say:

When I first met Violeta Garza, she was enthusiastically encouraging people to purchase raffle tickets for an OYAN fundraiser at an OLA Conference. It was readily apparent that she had a huge heart for teens, and her passion was contagious. I knew then that this was a librarian I wanted to get to know. Since then, I have gotten to see the impact of her work as a teen librarian, as an advocate and ally for youth, as an inspiration to colleagues, and as a leader in OLA. It is with these things in mind that I recommend her for OYAN’s You’re Excellent Award.

By all accounts — staff and teen volunteers — Violeta has been a champion for youth in East Multnomah County. At the Troutdale library, Violeta encouraged her teens to bring structure to their Teen Council so they could build leadership skills, all the while respecting their need for autonomy. She championed teen-led programming, including her support of Troutdale Library’s White Lotus Japanese Club, who hosted a successful White Lotus Con–a family-friendly event that included craft stations, a Japanese dance lesson, and a cosplay workshop and contest. She also made opportunities for teens to shadow her in storytime and outreach at schools, where she worked tirelessly to make sure teens knew about the services and resources that the library offers. Violeta performs her work with passion and dedication, with the purpose of recognizing underserved teens and how they can contribute to their community with equity and inclusivity. At Troutdale Library she became a confident source when teens needed an ear, and was an outlet for help when one  young person was experiencing homelessness.  She has been an inspiration and a vital role model for myself and for other colleagues in her approach to working with teens. 

For the past year, Violeta has had to pause her work with youth due to health issues. However, this hasn’t stopped her from keeping up the relationships she’s already built — this summer she drove up to Washington to have lunch and visit an old Teen Council member who was in need of some TLC and guidance. Other Teen Council members have moved far away, as far as the Philippines, but they still make time to keep in touch with her. When Violeta and I meet up for coffee, it’s not uncommon for her to get a text from an old Teen Council member who’s reaching out just to say hi, or for some guidance in a difficult time. 

In librarianship, we often talk about how building relationships is one of our most vital roles in our communities. And in youth librarianship particularly, we know how important developmental relationships are and how pivotal they can be in a young person’s success. Violeta embodies these principles and puts them into practice by simply being who she is. She has an ability to develop strong, trusting relationships with teens that has made a tremendous impact in their lives. She’s served as a role model for me and other colleagues in her approach to working with teens. And she’s dedicated herself to serving and promoting teen services not only at her library system, but at the state level by co-chairing the Oregon Young Adult Network. Attached, you’ll find a letter from a past Teen Council member in support of Violeta’s nomination for this award. 

Thank you very much for your consideration, 

Amy Fellows, Youth Librarian, Multnomah County Library

Constance Cramer, Library Clerk, Multnomah County Library

Jane Corry, Youth Librarian, Multnomah County Library

Jeanine Diaz, Youth Librarian, Multnomah County Library

Barbara Head, Youth Librarian, Multnomah County Library

Bobbye Hernandez, Bilingual Spanish Youth Librarian, Multnomah County Library

Danielle Jones, Teen and Youth Librarian, Multnomah County Library

Suzanne Jones, Library Assistant, Multnomah County Library

Annie Lewis, Early Childhood Services Manager, Multnomah County Library

Alonso Meléndez, Interim Belmont Supervisor, Multnomah County Library

Brianne Williams, Youth Librarian, Multnomah County Library