Superior – As Library Director of the Superior Public Library Josephine “Josie” Ortega Campos uses the library as her resource tool to bring about new social change in Superior, despite limited financial resources. In recognition of her efforts, she has recently been selected by Phoenix College’s Raul H. Castro Institute (RCI) and Latino Perspectives Magazine of Phoenix (LPM).
Josie was nominated by Dr. Christine Marin, Professor Emeritus, Grant Consultant, Chicana/o Research Collection & Archives, Dept. of Archives and Special Collections. Hayden Library. Arizona State University. “Congratulations to Josephine “Josie” Ortega Campos for being selected as an Arizona Latina Trailblazer, 2014,” said Dr. Marin, responding to the good news.
The Phoenix College’s Raul H. Castro Institute and Latino Perspectives Magazine of Phoenix are proud partners in the preservation of stories that have helped shape the modern history of Arizona: the Arizona Latina Trailblazers-Stories of Courage, Hope and Determination. These oral histories seek to capture the life stories of extraordinary Latinas like Josie Campos, who have made significant contributions to the community of Arizona, strongly imprinting their presence onto the fabric of our Arizona history through their courageous efforts.
When the Superior Public Library was established in 1952, it was housed in a small building in an alley behind the town’s jail, with few books on its shelves. Superior’s $10,000 fund-raising campaign in 1957 brought in $18,000. The money raised was used to move the library from the alley to a larger building.
The community’s Library Board was recognized in 1960 and awarded the Trustees Award by the state’s Arizona Library Association (AzLA). Superior was incorporated in 1976, and the town took ownership of the library.
In 1984 a grant from the Library Services and Construction Act resulted in a successful library expansion project. In 1988, Josephine “Josie” Ortega Campos was a part-time Library Aide at the Library, and promoted as Children’s Librarian within that year. In 1993, Josie became the first Latina in Superior, and the first Latina in Pinal County, to become Library Director; a position she has held for the last 21 years.
Historically, in Arizona, native-born Latinos and Mexican immigrants have been marginalized in our society, including schools and public libraries. Today, Latinos comprise the largest ethnic group in Arizona, including Superior.
Library Director Campos increased Latino-access to information and technology. Josie and the Superior Public Library play an important role in enriching the lives of Spanish-speakers and Latino immigrants and helps integrate them into their rural community. Latinos in Superior see their Superior Public Library today as a pillar of democracy because that’s where they also see their ethnic heritage, thanks to Library Director, Josephine “Josie” Ortega Campos.
The Superior Public Library serves approximately 3,000 people. Pinal County Library District receives approximately $23,000 in State Grants-In-Aid funds which are distributed equally among 12 public libraries. The Superior Public Library receives a mere $1,770 of that total for library-related expenses. Budget cuts often bring threats of closure. Acts of vandalism to the library resulted in burglaries, thefts and graffiti; but Josie is not defeated in her work to make learning meaningful to students, children, families of Superior and Pinal County.
Under Josie’s leadership, the Superior Public Library provides the highest level of services. She collaborates with faculty and staff of Superior’s Jr./Sr. high school and its only elementary school in helping children and students, including its English Language Learners (ELL), meet Arizona’s academic standards. Josie retired from the Superior Public Library in 2012, but City officials asked her to return to her position as Library Director on a part-time basis because they value her skill, bilingualism, work ethic and her success, which she did.
Josie lived in Superior most of her life. She was born in Jerome, but, Josie and her family moved from Bagdad to Superior in 1957. She is a graduate of SHS Class of 1966. She is married, with two children, three grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Josie will be honored as an Arizona Latina Trailblazer at the Arizona Latina Trailblazers, 2014 reception and dinner on March 19, 2014, at the Phoenix Art Museum in Phoenix, from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm. This reception and dinner is a free public event.
In addition, Josie’s oral history and accompanying video vignettes will be produced and preserved as a digital record for future generations through their addition to the Arizona Memory Project, sponsored by the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, in Phoenix.
Josie says, “I sincerely appreciate Dr. Christine Marin’s nomination and I am very proud to receive this award and represent my community and Town of Superior and most of all Superior Public Library! This would not have been possible without the support and help from my staff, co-workers with the Town of Superior, Town Council Members and all the staff at Pinal County Library District who always go above and beyond helping and supporting me. Also, all library patrons young and old, past and present.