Champion Spotlight: Maria Shackles

Maria Shackles photo

To be honest, I did not know exactly what I was getting myself into when I decided to go to library school. I moved to Boston in 2002 to attend graduate school at Simmons College without ever having worked in a library. I credit Spectrum for giving me my footing and changing the trajectory of my career.

The Spectrum Leadership Institute set the expectation that I would volunteer, get involved, and give back to the library community. It empowered me to speak up, to bring my perspective as a Filipino-American to my work. At the Leadership Institute in Atlanta I met a group of fun, smart, and amazing librarians and the work they do still inspires me, like my friend Alanna Aiko Moore, the Spectrum Scholarship 20th Anniversary Chair.

I’m passionate about creating a welcoming environment for families in the library and working to make our libraries reflect the communities we serve. Growing up in a small town in Missouri, I rarely saw anyone that looked like me, but as an adult I am happy to be a person that mixed race families, especially children, can identify with in my busy branch library.

I am grateful for the people and the opportunities Spectrum has connected me to. More than just a scholarship, Spectrum is a network, a multi-cultural community of forward-thinking library professionals and I am proud to be a part of it.

Maria (Pontillas) Shackles is a Branch Manager at the Tacoma Public Library in Tacoma, WA. Maria earned her BA in Art Education at Drury University in Springfield, MO and her MLS at Simmons College in Boston, MA. Maria was a 2002 Spectrum Scholar and a 2012 Emerging Leader. She has been active in the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association and is currently serving on ALSC's Managing Children's Services Committee. She has 10 years of experience as a Youth Services Librarian and is as passionate about playing the ukulele in storytime as she is about her Books on Tap bookclub that meets monthly in breweries around town.

Maria is a Spectrum Champion! She has graciously volunteered to serve as a Cohort Champion working on outreach to the 2008-2009 Class of Spectrum Scholars. If you are a Scholar from this year please consider emailing Maria to learn more about how you can help support Spectrum’s 20th Anniversary: A Celebration of Community. Cohort Champions have also committed to organizing a networking event in their region, activism, and fundraising efforts.