920 CLA is a regular column in Catholic Library World, introducing a CLA member in each issue. Noemi Flores is the subject of the December 2017 column.

Q&A with Noemi Flores, MLIS

Cardinal Beran Library
St. Mary’s Seminary
University of St. Thomas
Houston, Texas

Describe your career as a librarian and where you work.

I work for the University of St. Thomas- Houston’s only Catholic university- in the Cardinal Beran Library at the St. Mary’s Seminary campus. Seminarians, priests, and sisters abound. One of my first days here, a seminarian hurried out of the library calling to us librarians over his shoulder, “I have a test. Pray for me!” I had worked in a public library the previous year, so I was happily surprised to discover comments like this would be an everyday occurrence. It’s a lovely place to work.

Share something about yourself not related to librarianship.

I love stories and am passionate about social justice. My grandparents founded Casa Juan Diego, the Houston Catholic Worker house dedicated to serving undocumented and abused immigrants. I grew up there, and as an adult enjoy facilitating projects like the August School Supply Distribution and December Christmas Toy Distribution which serve hundreds of families.

When and why did you get involved in the CLA?

Before Dr. Mary Kelleher sponsored my CLA membership, I was only peripherally aware of the Catholic Library Association. I’m a cradle, actively practicing Catholic working in an extremely Catholic environment, so joining the CLA should have been obvious, but after three years as a librarian it still took Mary’s generous offer this past June to get me here.

How has being involved with the CLA been important to your professional development?

The journal provides a glimpse of the current doings of other Catholic librarians. Their programs and accomplishments inspire and inform. I am glad to learn of important issues or perspectives that might have otherwise slipped by me. Book reviews! Book awards! Centennials and author memorials! Curated bibliographies! Delicious. I also appreciate the helpful tools and resources recommended. They are so particularly pertinent to our patrons’ interests. The job opportunities listed are another great support.

What has been your most rewarding experience with the CLA?

I look forward to receiving and reading Catholic Library World; it illustrates the best things about the CLA. The most important factor is community. Being a Catholic librarian is a little different, challenging even, and sometimes it’s easier for me to separate my Catholic life from my librarian life. Realizing there are many other Catholic librarians who experience the same concerns and difficulties is heartening. I’m grateful for the solidarity.

As a new member, what do you hope to bring to, and get out of CLA?

Now that I know firsthand about the treasures in the CLA, I hope to encourage some of my Catholic librarian friends from my graduate school days to join as well. More members can only improve us. Later, I look forward to participating in the new, virtual CLA conference. Being a part of the CLA energizes me and I am emboldened in my librarian endeavors.