Miguel Figueroa is director of the Center for the Future of Libraries, an initiative of the American Library Association examining innovation in libraries and the communities they serve. Before participating in the Zócalo/WeHo Reads event “Do Libraries Have a Future?”, he sat down in the Zócalo green room and shared one of his earliest memories around books and libraries—which involves a missing library book.

Q: What cheese best describes you?
Oh my gosh. Can I just say a manchego? I like that. I don’t know why. It’s the first thing that came to mind.

Q: What’s your favorite cliché?
My mother always said, “What goes around comes around,” and as much as I wanted to dismiss it as a child, it’s proven to be true.

Q: What’s the first book you remember reading?
I have very fond memories of The Giving Tree. But my best book story is that I checked Where the Wild Things Are out from my school library, and I couldn’t find it when I was supposed to return it, and my mother got very mad at me. So that’s a very strong memory for me.

Q: Who or what would be your mascot?
I did go to ASU [Arizona State University], so I do still have an affinity for the Sun Devil. I’m sticking with the Sun Devil. There’s a certain edge to him. He’s fun. Sparky.

Q: What’s your most prized material possession?
I have the Italian movie poster of Pedro Almodóvar’s All About My Mother. When I lived in New York I used to go to this dive bar, and the poster was above the place I always used to sit. When that bar closed my friend took it for me, and the poster got shredded like nobody’s business in the mail. A framer put it back together for me. It has a very warm memory for me, and it’s been to hell and back and is still standing.

Q: Where do you go to be alone?
I think running is still the best opportunity to be alone. I live in Chicago, and I’ll run to Lincoln Park, run the Lakefront. It’s alone together because you’re running out there with a lot of other people.

Q: What’s the worst job you ever had?
I don’t think I’ve had that job. I worked in retail for a long time, and then I worked in libraries. I’ve enjoyed all of them.

Q: What question are people most likely to ask when they hear you’re in the library business?
What do you do? Or, do you like to read a lot?

Q: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
I don’t like people who are rude to waiters and servers. That’s one of the things that will piss me off very quickly. And I do pick up on it.

Q: What do you wish you had the nerve to do?
I keep saying I wish I had the nerve to go to law school, and that hasn’t happened. To go back to school, period. For anything.

*Photo by Aaron Salcido.