Instructor and Alumna Liana Juliano Advocates for Tribal Libraries

Community Profile

San José State University School of Information instructor and alumna Liana Juliano already has a packed schedule between her teaching duties, leadership of the American Indian Library Association (AILA), and job as Technical/Electronic Services librarian at a Los Angeles law firm. But she still finds time to drive two hours each way to the Torrez Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Reservation in Southern California because she believes so passionately in helping tribal libraries.

Over the past several years, Juliano has helped the Torrez Martinez PA’-CHEM EN ANWEN Education/Library Center with everything from cataloguing to collection development. She also developed and maintains the library’s website. “I feel like there is no one to advocate for the tribal library, so I have made it my job to do so,” said Juliano, who also serves as 2009-2010 AILA president.

The Torrez Martinez community is just one of the tribal libraries she works with. Juliano began volunteering with the Pala tribal library in northern San Diego County while earning her MLIS degree, and she reaches out to tribal libraries across California that have recently received Native American Library Services Enhancement Grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, letting them know she’s happy to answer any questions they might have as they ramp up their services.

One of Juliano’s top goals as president of AILA is to help recruit more American Indians into the library profession. AILA recently partnered with SLIS to seek IMLS grant funding that will allow the School to offer scholarships, mentoring, and other support for American Indians and Alaska Natives. An award decision is expected regarding the School’s Circle of Learning application in June 2010.

Tribal communities sorely need the services that libraries offer, including access to technology, literacy programs, and help for job seekers. Perhaps just as important, Juliano believes that librarians serve as a positive example to American Indian children who are looking for role models and career guidance. “Who better to work in a tribal library than someone who is from the tribe?” she said.

Juliano had an unconventional path to librarianship. After a decade as a horse trainer and snowboard instructor, the physical demands began to take a toll on her. Juliano became interested in special librarianship, and while earning her MLIS realized she had a talent for the technology services and Web design aspects of the profession. One of her first jobs after earning her MLIS was as Internet Services Librarian at the Los Angeles County Public Library, and she now works as Technical/Electronic Services Librarian at law firm Nossaman LLP, in Los Angeles.

Juliano, who teaches INFO 220 Resources & Information Services in Professions and Disciplines, also finds time to informally mentor aspiring librarians who she meets in her classes or through her involvement with AILA. She’s working with AILA to partner with other minority librarian groups, including REFORMA and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, to create a more formal mentorship program.

Juliano says she never would have considered librarianship if it weren’t for a family friend who worked as a law librarian. Because of that, she feels strongly about doing her part to educate people about librarianship. “One of the most important parts about mentoring librarians is to let them know that there are more options than just public librarianship,” Juliano said. “There are all sorts of librarians in all sorts of settings. As a librarian the sky is the limit as far as job options.”