Hernández wraps up successful 40-year career with CPL

Hector Hernandez

Héctor Hernández (MS '78) retired in September after 40 years with the Chicago Public Library, having served the past 30 years as branch manager of CPL's Rudy Lozano Branch. Located in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, the Rudy Lozano Branch is the largest Hispanic public library in the Midwest. Hernández was drawn to the field of librarianship because he never saw any Hispanic librarians when he was growing up. Over the course of his lengthy career at CPL, he became a role model for Hispanic youth in his community.

As branch manager, he was responsible for the library's overall daily operations.

"Half of my duties were administrative, and half were public service—a combination that I really liked," Hernández said. "Meeting the needs of a large Spanish-speaking population can be challenging. Libraries must provide a welcoming environment, adequate and relevant collections for Spanish-speaking community residents, and information services in Spanish. Being bilingual and bi-cultural, I was able to meet that challenge."

During his time at the Rudy Lozano Branch, Hernández hosted well-known writers and dignitaries from Mexico. He provided a meeting space for artists, musicians, activists, and teachers to share ideas and promote the arts, literature, language, and traditions of Mexico and Latin America. He also offered a bilingual community chess club, the Knight Moves Chess Club, which has met every week for 30 years. This nationally known chess program provides youth with an opportunity to improve their self-esteem, develop analytical skills, and meet players from Illinois and Mexico.

"Chess, like education, is a great equalizer. It puts everyone on equal footing," said Hernández, who is also in his tenth year as head coach of the St. Ignatius College Prep chess team.

Hernández has received many awards for his service to the community. In addition to being named the 1995 Librarian of the Year by REFORMA (The National Association to Promote Library Services to the Spanish Speaking), he has been honored by the Chicago Library System, Hispanic Literacy Council, Pilsen Alliance, Pilsen Chamber of Commerce, Casa Aztlán, and Illinois Chess Association. He was recently presented with a resolution from the Cook County Board of Commissioners, "Honoring 40 Years of Héctor Hernández's Commitment to the Chicago Public Library and the Rudy Lozano Branch Library."

While Hernández appreciates the accolades he has received throughout his career, he counts "making a positive impact on people's lives" as one of his greatest accomplishments.

"The iSchool gave me the tools to be successful in my profession," he said. "It provided me with the technical skills and the know-how, and helped me to formulate a humanistic approach to library services."

His advice to current students is to "believe in yourself, stay focused, don't lose sight of your goals, and work for the common good."

In addition to his MS/LIS degree, Hernández holds an MA in Latin American Literature, also from Illinois.

Updated on
Backto the news archive

Related News

Shaping the Narrative: Carey Cranston

In the very back of the American Writers Museum there is a corner where two walls meet, each filled from top to bottom with words, seemingly random. The light is low, and people gather as a projector illuminates these words to highlight quotes from famous authors and create shapes such as rolling waves and the distinct torch of the Statue of Liberty. Every eight minutes it refreshes itself and is mesmerizing to watch. It creates meaning out of disorder, ever-changing both in perspective and content.

Cary Cranston

Bessant gift to promote career success for LIS students

Donna Bessant (MS '70) wants today's library and information science students to succeed in their chosen profession and experience the "joyful rewards" of working with young people, as she did during her career. To lend them a hand, she has directed a portion of her estate to establish scholarships for iSchool students in need. The scholarships will support everyday expenses and advance the short- and long-term goals for students who plan to work with children and young adult services in libraries.

Donna Bessant

Gregory Knott appointed as U of I secretary

Gregory Knott (MS '17), an administrator for nearly two decades at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a graduate of two U of I System universities, has been appointed secretary of the Board of Trustees and the University, President Tim Killeen announced.

Greg Knott

Alumni selected as ALA Emerging Leaders

Three iSchool alumni have been selected by the American Library Association (ALA) to participate in its 2020 class of Emerging Leaders.

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Boden (MS '18), Teresa Moreno (MS '19), and Jodi Silverman (MS '16) are included in this year's class of fifty individuals from across the country. This leadership development initiative provides opportunities for newer library professionals to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, observe ALA structure, and serve the profession in a leadership capacity.

Hinchliffe elected co-secretary general of the UNESCO-GAPMIL program

Affiliate Professor Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, professor and coordinator for information literacy services in the University Library, has been elected as the co-secretary general of the International Steering Committee (ISC) for the UNESCO Global Alliance on Partnerships for Media and Information Literacy (GAPMIL). GAPMIL is a groundbreaking effort to promote international cooperation to ensure that all citizens have access to media and information competencies. In consultation with the international agencies, the ISC coordinates the overall implementation of GAPMIL activities.

Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe