As community branch manager at the Wilshire Library, Madeleine Ildefonso hopes to blow people’s minds about what the library is about. “Librarianship has changed so much in the past 20 years,” said the 42-year-old Koreatown resident who’s been at the helm of the St. Andrew’s Place branch since April. “The functions of libraries have changed, and we’re serving so many community needs.”
Ildefonso has settled into her role at Wilshire, her sixth branch since earning her master’s in library and information science. She had previously worked in journalism and publishing, but wasn’t passionate about it.
She recalls scoffing when her mother suggested she go to grad school to become a librarian. “But now I can go on and on about libraries… I’m passionate about them. And there’s something new every day at the Wilshire branch.”
Libraries aren’t moving away from books, but are incorporating new things, she adds. “We have an active readership, but we also function as a place for people to seek information about their interests… as a place for people who are new to the country to learn English and a place for people to use a computer. “The library is placed in the role of great equalizer,” observes Ildefonso. “You may or may not have things, but here you can have 3-D printers, computers and fancy, fun tools to create content.”
It’s also a place to find support. “Wilshire serves a diverse group of community. You have people who are well-versed in social media, but lots of others who don’t know what Facebook is, or whose parents don’t understand it. I can sit down with them and instruct them on how the internet works,” said Ildefonso, whose passion is information literacy.
Wilshire also hosts science and family fun programs, painting, drawing and sculpture workshops. “My husband’s an artist and high school art teacher, so I’m enlisting him,” Ildefonso said with a laugh. Chess classes for both adults and children are taught by a Brazilian chess champion. The branch also hosts the only inner-city citizenship class. Summer reading programs, activities for teens, and a volunteer reader on Saturday “who has a fan club following” are also popular.
A self-proclaimed good facilitator who likes to make things happen, Ildefonso says she has been busy contacting people to bring in new programming. “The biggest mission is to meet community need,” she said. “When you put something out there, people will let you know if they’re interested or not. The chess class was initially for adults, but kids showed interest, so we’re offering it for them, too.
“I’m just really looking forward to trying new things and seeing what people like or don’t like,” said Ildefonso. “And I encourage feedback, which is also about bringing new ideas. I’m so open to that.”
Wilshire Branch Library, 149 S. St. Andrews Place, 323-957-4550.