Meet the PLA Board

Meet Sonia Alcántara-Antoine, President

Sonia Alcántara-Antoine with her husband, on vacation in Aruba. He is seated on the wall surrounding a large swimming pool. She is standing between his legs. Palm trees wave in the background, in front of resort buildings.

I am the chief executive officer of Baltimore County (MD) Public Library. I have been fortunate to have had a successful career in public libraries, having served in a leadership capacity for most of my career. Previously I was the director of Newport News (VA) Public Library, public services manager at Virginia Beach (VA) Public Library, and held a number of roles at Enoch Pratt Free Library (Baltimore, MD). I am most proud of having been an ALA Spectrum Scholar early on when I was just starting out in libraries. The experience made me feel less alone in a profession that did not look like me. Spectrum exposed me to the wide world of libraries where there are so many library types and job roles within the profession. It blew the roof off of what I knew about libraries and showed me a career path that could be limitless. I can draw a clear line from Spectrum to where I am today. My husband has been an ardent supporter for me and my career goals, always believing in me and being willing to pick up and move every time opportunity knocked. He and I have been happily married for fifteen years.

Why I wanted to serve on the PLA Board

I believe in the library profession and in the Public Library Association. Both have given me so much! Serving on the PLA Board allows me to give back. Being president-elect for PLA is the highest honor for me. Public libraries are the last bastion of a democratic society. Our colleagues across the country are on the front lines, defending intellectual freedom and upholding the right of access to everyone in their communities. I want to be able to support the work of librarians and library workers so that they have the tools they need to serve and transform their communities.

My vision for the future of public libraries

Public libraries are integral to the quality of life of any community, and are as important as schools, parks, hospitals, and public safety. However, public libraries are not often acknowledged as such. Frequently, public libraries are required to do a lot with less funding and support than other vital community assets. My vision for public libraries is that they are well-funded and well-respected as the community and cultural anchors they are, and that they are seen and valued as critical institutions that meet people where they are, serving everyone including the most vulnerable among us.

My favorite book

No favorite but the book that has stayed with me for years is The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. The sign of a good book is one that you can’t stop thinking about long after you’ve put it down. This is one for me, forever changing how I see myself and the world around me.

Somewhere I love to frequent in my community

Loch Raven Reservoir, a local watershed reservoir/trail. It is beautiful and peaceful, with lots of trees, birds, deer, and the sound of rushing water over the dam. I love seeing the seasons change. My best friend and I have been hiking here for years and I always feel restored after our weekly hikes.

Photo: Sonia Alcántara-Antoine taken on vacation last year in Aruba. My husband and I want to see the world together!