June 18, 2018

David Lopez | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Community Builders

David Lopez


Senior Librarian, Santa Ana Public Library, CA


MLIS, San José State University, CA, 2012; MFA, University of California, Riverside, 2010


I Love My Librarian Award, 2014


@DavidLopez85 on Twitter; @MrDaveLopez on Instagram; The Brillantina Project

Photo by Douglas Gritzmacher


Safe Spaces

“This is your eulogy./ Un canto sin letras./ Una memoria/—inexpresable.” David Lopez wrote the poem “Eulogy” after the June 2016 shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, FL. It appeared on the website The Brillantina Project, an online poetry anthology for LGBTQ+ writers that Lopez created in response to the massacre. “When these spaces of healing do not exist, we have to create them on our own and show the world that we are here,” says Lopez, who has an MFA in creative writing as well as an MLIS.

Nurturing writers is something Lopez is well versed in—he volunteered at Barrio Writers, a free creative writing program for people in underserved communities, for four years—and creating safe spaces for people is what he does every day at the Santa Ana Public Library.

A senior librarian since 2017, Lopez, who started there part time in 2005 and became full time in 2013, has a history with the library that goes back to childhood: he grew up in Santa Ana, and his sister and aunt worked in the library system.

One of his recent projects is providing library programming at the Garfield Community Center, a joint-use facility developed by the city and the Santa Ana Unified School District—the first such collaboration in Santa Ana. At Garfield, Lopez oversees a computer lab with 20 Macs, two early literacy stations, an after-school tutoring program, a youth hangout space, and classes that include coding, 3-D design, creative writing, computer fundamentals, and typing.

He wants to close the “generational-technological gap” for seniors—including his mother, who has taken classes at Garfield. Seeing her participating, “I was immediately transported to those times as a kid when we’d sit together and practice her English,” he says. “It was a proud moment.”

He also created the all-ages Summer Tech Institute, a six-week workshop in video production, 3-D printing and design, and coding. More than 100 patrons, mostly Latinx, have participated in the past two years.

Lopez is the Western region chapter representative for REFORMA (the National Organization To Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking) and serves on the American Library Association Council as a councilor at-large.

In September, he’ll travel to Germany as one of six 2018 Next Library Emerging Leaders Fellows at the Next Library® Conference, hosted by the Central and Regional Library of Berlin. “As a queer person of color, it is absolutely crucial to be present in places where minorities have never had a chance before,” he says.

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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