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Herrera Elementary Librarian Honored by UTEP

UTEP President Diana Natalicio honored Herrera Elementary librarian Lisa Lopez-Williamson with the newly established President’s Meritorious Service Award Tuesday at Magoffin Auditorium.

Lopez-Williamson received the award for her collaboration with UTEP English professor Dr. Joseph Rodriguez on the Little Free Library initiative, which she established in El Paso in 2011 as librarian at Zavala Elementary.

Lopez-Williamson brought the initiative to El Paso to promote literacy and fill a void left by federal budget cuts of the Reading Is Fundamental’s (RIF) program.

news_2548_m“Cuts in programs like RIF meant that schools like Zavala were no longer going to have access to free books,” she said.

El Paso was the first in Texas to establish the Little Free Library through partnerships and collaborations with Parks and Recreation, Department of Public Health, EPCC, UTEP, Books are Gems, Friends of the Public Libraries, United Way, Woodworkers Club of El Paso, Girl Scouts of the Southwest, Child Crisis Center, Center Against Family Violence and  EPISD libraries. Lopez-Williamson has seen the number of these tiny libraries grow to 115 citywide.

“The UTEP President’s Meritorious Service Award has been the cherry on top,” Lopez-Williamson said. “Not only will they be giving me funding to keep building more LFLs locally, they will also now host their second LFL on campus at the Education Department.”

Rodriguez took charge of the one LFL in his department and co-presented with Lopez-Williamson at the Border Regional Library Association conference. Rodriguez and Lopez-Williamson were honored by Natalicio at UTEP’s annual service awards celebration.

“Your fine work has been central to UTEP’s mission, demonstrating how academic leadership in partnership with community expertise and resources can address local challenges and increase the quality of life in this region,” Natalicio said.

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