Throughout her career, Elizabeth Martinez has been known for her visionary leadership, innovative ideas and advocacy for cultural diversity. Elizabeth in collaboration with Dr. Amulfo Trejo founded and organized REFORMA, The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking, and the Committee to Recruit Mexican American Librarians in California. She co-chaired the first ALA policy on diversity “Equity at Issue” in 1986 with Binnie Tate Wilkin for President E. J. Josey. As ALA executive director she developed the Spectrum Scholarship program. Since 1997, ALA has awarded more than 800 Spectrum Scholarships. The Office for Information Technology Policy was also established during her tenure as ALA executive director.
In Los Angeles, as library director, she opened the new $214 million Richard RIordon Central Library and established the Foundation of the LAPL. She built nine community libraries for Orange County Public Library (Calif.) and established the Asian Pacific Islander, Black, Chicano and Native American resource centers for the County of Los Angeles.