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In Dialogue with Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada and Erin L. Ellis on Community, Diversity, and Self-Care in Librarianship

Recorded on 06/23/2023
Posted in TIE Podcast

TIE Podcast · Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada and Erin Ellis on Community, Diversity, and Self-Care in Libraries

Toward Inclusive Excellence‘s latest podcast episode features another “In Dialogue” session, which brings together prominent scholars, library leaders, and higher education stakeholders to discuss a timely topic. In time for the end of their tenures, ALA’s 2022-23 President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada and ACRL’s 2022-23 President Erin L. Ellis sit down with Toward Inclusive Excellence editor-in-chief Alexia Hudson-Ward to discuss the associations’ challenges and successes of the past year. Lessa and Erin detail how each organization worked to address the surge in book bans and attacks on librarianship affecting both public and academic libraries. Further, the guests underscore the strength and power of the library community, highlighting how support can come in many forms, whether through direct advocacy or behind-the-scenes encouragement. In addition, Lessa and Erin explain the importance of self-care as leaders and library workers, and share their own perspectives on the continuous lack of compositional diversity in librarianship—and what can be done to dispel toxic workplace culture and to advance inclusive practices and pipelines. This enlightening discussion brings together library leaders to explore the issues affecting libraries today, and the overlap and community found between the academic and public library spaces.


About the guests:

Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada
Adult Services Assistant Manager
Palos Verdes Library District

Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada is the Adult Services Assistant Manager at the Palos Verdes Library District in Southern California. She is also the current Executive Director of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), a past president of APALA (2016-2017), and 2022-23 President of the American Library Association (ALA).

Lessa began her career in libraries at the County of Los Angeles Public Library’s Lomita Library as a page and has worked for many Southern California libraries including Glendale Public Library and Rancho Cucamonga Public Library as a Children’s & General Librarian. One of her most rewarding professional experiences has been as a member of the Steering Committee for the 2018 Joint Conference of Librarians of Color and she credits the 2012 JCLC with influencing her career path and professional interests.

She holds an MLIS and Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and an Associate of Arts in Philosophy from El Camino College in Torrance, California.

Her hobbies include baking, weight lifting, and for many years she danced hula for Kaulana Ka Hale Kula ‘O Na Pua ‘O Ka ‘Aina with Kumu Hula Randy Kaulana Chang. She currently lives in San Pedro, California with her English Professor-Poet husband Christian Hanz Lozada and their menagerie of pets.

Erin L. Ellis
Associate Dean for Organizational Strategy, Diversity, and Inclusion
Indiana University Libraries

Erin L. Ellis became the IU Libraries’ first Associate Dean for Organizational Strategy, Diversity, and Inclusion in January, 2023. She joined the IU Libraries in April, 2018 as Associate Dean for Research and Learning Services. Prior to her arrival at IU, Erin served as the Associate Dean, Research and Learning Division at the University of Kansas Libraries, where she had worked since 2005. She previously held the positions of Head of Libraries Instructional Services and Social Sciences Librarian. Preceding her work at the University of Kansas, Erin served as an Information Services Librarian and Interim Instruction Coordinator at Texas Tech University Libraries. Erin has an M.L.S. degree from Emporia State University, a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Kansas, and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Pittsburg State University.

Erin’s professional interests include organizational transformation, scholarly communication, equity and inclusion in academic librarianship, and information literacy. She has written and presented widely on a variety of library-related topics. Additionally, she has consulted with academic libraries and departments on organizational reviews, strategic planning, and organizational design.

In 2021, Erin was elected as Vice-President/President-Elect of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) serving from July 2022-2023. Erin was a member of the 2016-2017 Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Leadership Fellows cohort, and has participated in the Harvard Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians and the assessment and teacher tracks of the ACRL Information Literacy Immersion Program.

Episode theme music: Black is the Night by Jeris (c) copyright 2014 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license. Ft: DJ Vadim (djvadim), NiGiD


Watch the full video recording of the interview here:


Learn more about Toward Inclusive Excellence:

The ongoing TIE Podcast series will feature provocative, in-depth conversations with important figures in the higher education community to help administrators and academic leaders understand racism from new perspectives and to promote racial justice on their campuses. 

Check out the Toward Inclusive Excellence blog, which covers issues related to racial and social justice and provides actionable resources for those in higher education and beyond.

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Interested in contributing to TIE? Send an email to Deb V. at Choice dvillavicencio@ala-choice.org with your topic idea.