Jesse Alexander Lopez, Art Librarian
Wayne State introduced me to the profession and emphasized the importance of getting practical/professional experience during graduate school.
Jesse Alexander Lopez graduated from the School of Information Sciences with a master’s in library and information science in 2016. As a student Lopez completed a librarian fellowship at North Carolina State University and was a Learning and Student Success Librarian at the Arizona State University Library after receiving his MLIS. Prior to his career in academic libraries, Lopez served in the United States Marine Corps.
Lopez is now the Art Librarian and interim volunteer coordinator at the Phoenix Art Museum. He is the sole librarian at the museum and in addition to running the library and an exhibition space, he is responsible for three special collections and the institutional archive.
Q. Is there an aspect of your work that you most enjoy?
A. I know it is a common task for a librarian, but this is the first time in my career that I am buying books for the library, including artist books and rarer things. I really enjoy collection maintenance and building.
Q. How did Wayne State’s MLIS program prepare you for your career?
A. Wayne State introduced me to the profession and emphasized the importance of getting practical/professional experience during graduate school. I was a Graduate Student Assistant and had a variety of internships and externships, including participating in the Alternative Spring Break program at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. All of those experiences built my resume and expanded my network, ultimately allowing me to find and fill this position.
Q. What are some of your fondest memories of your time at Wayne State?
A. I attended Wayne State physically and worked on campus in Purdy/Kresge Library and loved the architecture of the university so much. It’s an interesting and occasionally beautiful campus. I will always remember my Oral History class with Kim Schroder. I interviewed several old Detroit soul singers like Melvin Davis and Joe Harris and our conversations are now cataloged and housed in the Reuther Archive.
I miss the look and vibe of Detroit and all the people and dogs from that time in my life. And I miss the food on and around campus a lot (especially the beef shawarma at Bucharest Grill, NY Bagels in Ferndale, coney dogs at Red Hots, smoked chicken wings at Slow’s etc., etc., etc.)
Q. What advice would you offer to current or prospective students?
- Enjoy Wayne State, the city of Detroit, and this period of your life. Grad school is way better than undergrad in my opinion.
- Work in a library. Do internships that interest you. Say yes to a lot of things at this juncture.
- Make friends in the library world.
- Build a competitive resume and get to know people who will vouch for you.
- Don’t let “librarian” be your entire identity.