November 24, 2017

Sol Gómez | Movers & Shakers 2008

Paying It Forward

Sol Gómez was a construction worker when he entered the University of Arizona’s (UA) Knowledge River program, which trains librarians to serve Hispanic and Native American communities. Now, as a branch manager at the Pima County Public Library (PCPL), his raw materials are young minds, and what they’re building is a better future.

During his rise through PCPL, says Deputy Director Patrick Corella, Gómez built a “following of kids who participated, collaborated, and created games,” showing their peers how to use library resources and computers to find information.

When Gómez took over a distance education program to train Spanish speakers to use computers, he realized how many students were dropping out. He enlisted UA honors students to help them and followed through with his own personal commitment to their success with frequent calls and coaching.

Gómez worked with UA honors students again to create a Spanish-language computer course focused on job searching and résumé building. Corella calls this a win for everyone: students emerge with the skills to create a résumé and apply for jobs online; the honors students get service learning credits and improve their Spanish; and Gómez’s branch meets important user needs.

PCPL director Nancy Ledeboer calls Gómez a “powerful mentor,” who works with REFORMA and Knowledge River, recruiting and mentoring a new generation of librarians. Gómez likes being a role model—and he recognizes its transformational power. “The kids see me and think I’m one of them,” he says. “But then they realize I went to school and got degrees and know it’s a possibility.”

Vitals

CURRENT POSITION Manager, Sam Lena–South Tucson Branch Library, Pima County Public Library, AZ; Knowledge River Co-coordinator of Student Support, University of Arizona, Tucson

DEGREE MLIS, University of Arizona, 2004

KUDOS American Library Association Emerging Leader, 2008

STREET CRED Known to local youth as “the librarian who lifts weights”

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