Next Stop — Harvard: Librarian Natalie Lopez Accepted Into Career-focused Leadership Program
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Publish Date: April 26, 2023

Natalie Lopez

A dream a decade in the making has come true for one of Crafton Hills College’s own.

Librarian Natalie Lopez was recently accepted into the Harvard Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians, a program designed to increase leadership effectiveness and management capacity, according to the program’s website.

Lopez first learned about the program years ago and began the process of developing skills needed to successfully apply, she explained. And even after submitting her application, Lopez was still second-guessing herself, but soon the good news was delivered to her inbox. “And [I] quietly celebrated since I was at the [Crafton library] Reference Desk while reading the acceptance letter. After all, students were studying nearby,” she shared.

Lopez has been a part of the Crafton family since 2021 and currently holds a Master’s in Library and Information Science from San Jose State. She entered the career field more than 20 years ago, following in the footsteps of her parents, who met while working in the library system themselves. It was fate, she explained.  “When I was little, my dad was studying at USC and we went to the library on campus,” Lopez said. “Instead of coloring in the coloring books he bought for me, I took books off the shelves and read some encyclopedias the whole time while he studied. He and I both knew libraries were in my future.”

Her career eventually led to Crafton, where Lopez fell in love with the authors’ names painted on library walls, names she was familiar with. “I can definitely say I have read a book from every author on those walls,” she shared. “I can’t describe it, but I had a feeling that this was home for me.”

Lopez said that since she began working as a Crafton librarian her experience has been rewarding thanks to the many opportunities available and tools on hand to aid in student success. “I love how I [am] approached to be involved,” Lopez explained. “People would knock on my door at the library so I felt included and that I belonged making every day special.”

Her next stop — Harvard.

This year’s program runs for five days in mid-July and will address topics such as Contemporary Leadership Challenges; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging; and Leading Transformational Changes in the Library. Program applications are currently being accepted now through June 11, and are open to all college and university librarians with management  responsibilities, librarians who lead major programs, and non-library campus leaders “whose work impacts library-related functions,” the website said. To learn more about the program, go to www.gse.harvard.edu/ppe/program/leadership-institute-academic-librarians

In the meantime, Lopez is counting down her days until she makes her way back East for the program and has some advice for those looking to get into the field: talk to her.

“I have worked in a variety of library environments such as public, university, specialized private research libraries, a presidential library, and community college libraries. I would be happy to tell [anyone] how rewarding this career path is and how it is connected to so many disciplines,” she continued. “The librarian field is also very flexible with research interests in a variety of formats such as print and electronic books, streaming films and even published zines. If any student is interested in pursuing a career in teaching, the library has information literacy and instruction opportunities as well.”