Natalie Lopez provides tours, teaches classes, and constantly promotes the many services of the Palomar College Library/Learning Resource Center (LRC). About the new building, she says, “I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things from our students.”
SAN MARCOS — When she walked into the new library at Palomar College for the first time, Natalie Lopez couldn’t stop smiling.
“It was breathtaking,” she recalled of that first glimpse, months before the library opened to students. “I walked into the lobby and just pictured myself helping the students at the reference desk. Even when the boxes were still packed, I was seeing the picture beyond the boxes, envisioning how the students were going to define the space.”
As the Outreach Librarian at Palomar College, a large part of Lopez’s job is to help students learn to navigate the library and use the resources that it provides—a responsibility that has taken on unique proportions this semester, with the move into a brand new space.
“There’s a term—it’s called ‘library anxiety.’ Students may walk in and feel afraid to approach the desk,” she explained “So we’re always friendly and approachable. Every question is a good question.”
In many ways, it seems Lopez was destined to end up in a library.
“My father was a librarian for 35 years in the L.A. County Library system, and my dad and mom met in a library, so it definitely runs in the family—a love of books and a love of reading,” she said.
Lopez started her career as a page at the Huntington Library in San Marino, a popular destination for scholars working on postdoctoral research. Then she spent nine years working as a librarian at Cal Poly Pomona.
While at Cal Poly, “Somebody told me, ‘You have a natural talent for outreach,’” she recalled. “I didn’t know what that was, but I quickly learned it was about promoting the wonderful resources that libraries have to help students succeed.”
Lopez knew she wanted to become a faculty librarian, teaching and working in a library at the same time. She earned her M.A. in Library Science from San Jose State University in 2008 and, in 2016, came to Palomar as an Assistant Professor and Outreach Librarian.
At Palomar, she provides “one-shot” instruction, training classes on how to use library resources to write a research paper for English class, for example. She also teaches in the Library Information Technology program, training students who themselves plan to go on to careers in libraries.
“Instruction doesn’t just take place in the classroom—it also takes place at our reference desks, so I fulfill reference duties, as well,” she said. “I wear many hats, and I love the adventure.”