Meet the PLA Board

Meet Deb Sica, ALA Division Councilor

Deb Sica

Well, hello there PLA friends! I’ve been in the field of research, education, and libraries since 1993 and worked as an archivist, an academic, a researcher, and, now, proudly, serve the staff and the communities of the Alameda County (CA) Library as the deputy county librarian. I came into public libraries as a refuge. I was in a very emotionally and spiritually difficult archival position at a Holocaust Museum and I wanted a 180-degree change. On a whim and a wing, I put in an application at my local public library! Alas, they welcomed me onto staff and I have never turned back. Public libraries became my home and the place where I can help others build their homes within our profession. Since then, I spent the better part of the last two decades in public libraries working to transform dated, discordant practice and policy towards socially just campaigns for full inclusion. I have been politically active for over thirty years and continue to fight for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in libraries and in life.

My early public librarian years were spent in Harris County, TX. I was active in creating spaces within the Texas Library Association (TLA) for LGBTQIA+ folx. I served as regional chair for TLA’s District 8. After a move to Califorinia for marriage equality protections, I became part of California Coalition for Race Equity & Inclusion and the Government Alliance for Race Equity. I served as chair of the ALA’s Rainbow Round Table (RRT), RRT Councilor, and IFRT’s Merritt Fund Chair. I am currently a member of BARC and the PLA liaison for IFC. I’m also a proud member of the Freedom to Read Foundation and BCALA.

I’m living the dream in Northern California, in our tiny bungalow with my brilliant and beautiful wifey of twenty-four years and our German shepherd/yellow Labrador mix pup, Gaetano Giovanni Scostumato Sica-McKenzie (aka Mr. Guy).

Why I wanted to serve on the PLA Board

There are so many reasons to serve! My impetus to giveback came from my time at the PLA Leadership Academy. That experience fully confirmed and connected me to this work. I was with several other public library leaders and grew to understand my personal why. I was given intentional kindness in order to create a robust and safe learning space. The relationships forged there made room for all there to exercise curiosity and empathy as we navigated the complications of Public Library Leadership together! I knew, given all of that effort by the PLA staff and volunteer public library leaders, that I wanted to give back tenfold. This is one way for me to do that.

My vision for the future of public libraries

Daily, I am reminded that empathetic conversations and shared community resources are some of the best tools we have to rebalance socio-economic inequities. Giving voice to all and room to question, understand and explore is necessary. Democracy is truly at stake (and I don’t type that lightly or in cliché). I fully believe that the best mechanism we have to uphold justice and protect against apathy is to advocate for change within the context of public libraries. We will continue to rally resources, care for our colleagues, educate our curious patrons and support those who need our social safety net services. This is our past, our present, and our future!

My favorite book

Acck! The hardest question you can ever ask a library worker! Let’s go with what I just finished and what books are next in the reading lineup!

Just Finished: Babel: An Arcane History by R.F. Kuang

Next Up: The Other Mother by Rachel M. Harper

Somewhere I love to frequent in my community

Every Saturday, rain or shine, my community holds a farmers market. This is not your run-in-the-mill market. This weekly ritual has become a space of authentic community for me. I often meet my bestie for brunch at our local greasy spoon or chic pop up space. I pick up some farm fresh goodness to help sustain my family for the week. However, it is a particularly magical place with so many people: from the man who wears his faux fur forever prioritizing personal style over weather appropriate dress, to the soap maker small business entrepreneurs, to the local coffee roaster making the air smell so rich with caffeinated goodness, to the proud and highly creative Lowriders groups from all over the Bay Area, elected city leaders, brave library workers, memorable patrons, Obtainium Works artists, Ballet Folklórico dancers on Felices Fiestas Patrias, to Pista Sa Nayon culture keepers, and our three-decades strong Juneteenth Celebrations organizers. So much goes into the making of this farmers market. All these elements melded together are where I renew my sense of community.

Photo: This pic is from back in the day at a lovely library that will always hold a special place in Deb Sica's heart, Northwest Library, Harris County, TX. Here, Deb is serving up some Public Library Halloween Realness!