San Rafael, CA – There’s a good explanation for the atmospheric buzz being experienced at the Marin City branch of the Marin County Free Library. One of their own, Diana Lopez, has been featured in a prestigious national journal for her leadership and advocacy in the community.
Diana Lopez became one of only about 100 librarians nationwide who have earned Advocate status from Library Journal since the awards were first given in 2002.
On March 5, Library Journal featured Lopez, the branch manager and senior librarian, among nine “2019 Advocates” as an industry “Mover and Shaker” and literacy partner. Library Journal has provided features and news reporting about American libraries since 1876 and is the top trade publication in that industry. This is the first time an MCFL employee has received such recognition from Library Journal. Only about 100 librarians nationwide have earned Advocate status since the awards were first given in 2002.
Lopez, a County employee since 2013, took over as branch manager and Education Initiatives Coordinator in October 2017. She was commended as an advocate in the feature because of her role in Marin County’s most racially diverse and economically challenged community.
The Marin City branch, which traces its history to 1942, had among the least amount of operational hours of the 10 MCFL branches, but Lopez spearheaded the movement in 2015 to have it be the first branch to open seven days a week. She worked to promote science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, collectively known as STEAM.
“We serve a disadvantaged community here and I’m really into promoting STEAM programs, especially for girls and minorities,” Lopez said at the time. “It’s really important to me that kids in this community know they can be engineers, architects and designers.”
Library Journal credited Lopez with, “enhancing basic services, providing opportunities for local teens to develop their technology skills, and offering specialized support for grade schoolers.” More than 300 nominations for Advocate awards were vetted by Library Journal, giving weight to factors such as innovation, the impact of the person's work, and the potential for programs to serve as models and inspiration for others in the field.
“I love our community,” Lopez told the Library Journal. “But there are a lot of equity gaps. My branch works hard to close those gaps — especially when it comes to serving our youth.”
In her role as Education Initiatives Coordinator for MCFL, Lopez oversees the library at nearby Bayside Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy in in Marin City. MCFL has supported the Bayside library the past two years and worked to create free book giveaway program for students.
MCFL Director Sara Jones said educational equity is a critical goal for her department and the County government. Diversity and inclusion were singled out in the County’s 5 Year Business Plan, adopted in 2015.
“Diana is a passionate, tireless, and authentic advocate for the children and members of the community who are marginalized and disadvantaged,” Jones said. “Partnerships with schools and community organizations and our library staff’s deep commitment helps ensure every child has the resources to succeed.”
Lopez previously worked as a librarian at Pasadena City College. She earned her library science degree from San Jose State University in 2010.