REFORMA LA Member Spotlight: Lupita Pérez Leyva

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Name: Lupita Pérez Leyva

Title: Senior Librarian, Robert Louis Stevenson Branch Library (LAPL)

MLIS program: UCLA's Master of Library & Information Science Program

Primary service roles: I am the branch manager, and I am in charge of programming and collection development for adults in both English and Spanish. However, when I have a vacancy, I also fill in as either a Young Adult or Children's librarian. 

How does your work align with service to Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities?: Our branch is located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. Boyle Heights used to be a very multicultural neighborhood at the beginning of the 20th century, but it is now over 94% Latinx. Our community spans the entire linguistic spectrum from Spanish monolingual (high percentage) to Spanish-preferent to bilingual to English-preferent to English monolingual, but it skews toward the Spanish speaking. I am blessed to use both languages every single day at my branch, and I work with many community non-profits to provide Spanish-language programming for our community. Our branch collection is over 40% Spanish, so I do lots of collection development in Spanish. And lots and lots of outreach in Spanish! I've also been on live TV (Univisión, Telemundo, and Channel 22) talking about the Los Angeles Public Library and promoting library services in general (one time I wore a Lorax mustache on live TV, and another time I wore a Dr. Seuss hat on live TV), and I've been interviewed for Spanish-language radio and La Opinión (LA's legendary Spanish-language newspaper). Also, I'm very pleased to be one of the members of the Los Angeles Public Library's Spanish Translation Team. Not only does our team strive to provide linguistically correct and culturally relevant translations for the entire LAPL system, but we also advocate for providing services, programming and outreach in Spanish throughout the LAPL system.  

Gratifying aspects of your work: Ayudar a mi gente a que aprovechen de tantos servicios que ofrecemos que les pueden beneficiar. Proveer servicios bibliotecarios a mi comunidad en su idioma. Uno de mis servicios favoritos son las clases de ciudadanía en español (para personas que califican para tomar el examen de naturalización en español). Tengo fotos de varias personas que se han hecho ciudadanos gracias a los servicios de nuestra biblioteca para inspirar a otras personas de la comunidad para que también se hagan ciudadanos. Es algo muy significativo para mí, pues mis papás también se hicieron ciudadanos cuando vivían en Boyle Heights gracias a la ayuda que recibieron de las organizaciones comunitarias.   

Some words of advice to other librarians and/or present and future MLIS students: Follow your passion. Find the place where work doesn't feel like work, but like a calling, because when those tough times/people happen (and they will), you will know your purpose, and you won't be derailed. 

Previous programs that I have done: I do a lot of programs with the help of community organizations. In the past, I've had citizenship classes (presented by Catholic Charities, CARECEN), renters' rights workshops (presented by LA Center for Law and Justice), nutrition classes (presented by Esperanza Community Housing), movie nights, mental health workshops (provided by the LA County Department of Mental Health), the UCLA Mobile Eye Clinic (provides free eye exams and glasses), staged play readings (presented by Center Theatre Group), and many, many more that I can't remember. But, I always try to provide programming in both languages. For example, the play readings are in both, but they alternate each month.