BCL Librarian Robles lauded with CLA Public Librarian Award of Excellence

October 23, 2009
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesBlanchard Community Library Librarian Dan Robles is being honored with the California Library Association’s Public Librarian Award of Excellence.According to Wayne Disher, president of the California Library Association’s Public Libraries Section/Interest Group, Robles was nominated by a peer and was selected as “this year’s most worthy recipient... our committee was so impressed with all your many achievements and your commitment and passion for public libraries.”Robles, a native son of a native son (Otilio Robles) of Santa Paula, will be honored at the October 30th California Library Association’s Annual Awards Ceremony in Pasadena. Robles has worked at BCL for 43 years and has been Librarian for three decades.The award, said BCL Board President Brenda DeJamaer, “Is very much deserved... Dan does a lot and kind of under the wire; he doesn’t like recognition or ringing his own bell. I’m so happy he’s being recognized.” Robles often acts anonymously, such as the donations he gives local schools, also, noted DeJamaer, “anonymously... so I’m glad, really glad” he garnered the state’s top librarian’s award.“We on the Board have been long aware of Dan’s passion and dedication to the library,” said Clerk of the Board Suzi Skutley. “It’s especially appropriate that he be recognized as the library approaches its centennial year.”A Santa Paula High School graduate and a BCL page since the age of 13, Robles first attended Lewis and Clark University and received a master’s degree in library science from San Jose State University. The BCL fixture said his career aspirations first centered on teaching, and early assignments were punctuated by summers spent working at the library.Although Robles taught theater arts, modern American literature and creative writing, finding a full-time position in the area was problematic. Robles said the then BCL Librarian Elisabeth Blake told Robles there was a state grant for minorities, with the caveat that a position would be offered him when his studies were completed.“Although I didn’t have to take it, when I graduated and looked around the Bay area there was a glut of librarians on the market, so I accepted the job in Santa Paula the day I graduated.” When Blake passed away in 1979 Robles was named acting librarian, a tough job in the wake of passage of Proposition 13 that dramatically cut funding. “The budget was reduced by 54 percent,” and Robles remembers, “The line item for books was $50.”When he first started his career Robles was “really fascinated by it... when I couldn’t become a teacher in the classroom and have a captive audience, I enjoyed that at the library people were walking in because they wanted something... they wanted to learn or find something and they were the type of people I realized I wanted to help - the personalities and the interests. And the intent was to help themselves find something or learn something.”And that’s what he enjoys most about his job: “I enjoy helping people,” said Robles. “I always have.”
According to the Robles nomination: “Daniel’s visionary perspective and considerable self-sacrifice resulted in saving the library from closing its doors forever.... Never-ending fundraising and marketing efforts kept a trickle of money coming into the annual budget,” while Robles also was active on the Chamber of Commerce Board, as well as leadership of the Santa Paula Kiwanis and the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley. He has also been a Santa Paula Elementary School District Trustee for 15 years.“In 1985 and for ten times since then,” notes the nomination, “Robles successfully secured a voter ballot initiative that awarded a partial tax of $5 per property parcel to the library for the first six years and eventually growing it into today’s $40 per parcel in perpetuity.... That same year of 1985 when the library was struggling to keep its doors open, Dan lobbied his library board to allow him to start a literacy program” that 24 years later has grown into FLAIR with an additional ESL component.In 1988, he was the first California librarian to win the Public Library Association/Baker & Taylor Allie Beth Martin Award for “extraordinary knowledge of books and the ability to share.” He not only knew the library services inside and out, he helped build the book collection over the many, many years.Robles also was a longtime volunteer for Meals on Wheels and Food Share, and has been a one-man courier service, picking up donations as well as delivering books to patrons unable to get to BCL.A leader in library technology, Robles wrote and received one of the first waves of Gates Grants to assist in the installation of computer stations in the library, and his “innovative twist was to negotiate the connection of youth computers directly into the local school district’s budding network and its filtered access.”Robles was a 2005 Ventura County region Jefferson Award recipient. Generations of young children remember his alter ego Conan the Librarian and the battles for literacy, and he continues to visit classrooms to read stories.Robles’ contributions to the library and its expansion of services for community residents of all ages is notable, including his use of Pepper, a trained assistance-dog for young children who read aloud to her for 20 minutes.“Working for the Blanchard/Santa Paula Public Library District has not been just a job for Daniel Robles,” notes the nomination, “it has been an adventure, a passion and a way of life.”

Site Search



Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.