When Adrián Gómez Meza first moved to the United States from Mexico at age 15, he fell in love with public libraries and how they work in this country. Born in Tenamaxtlán, Jalisco, Gómez
Meza was used to libraries that were not necessarily user-friendly. Libraries in his town were often not open, had a very limited selection, and created many barriers to borrowing a book.
“Libraries here have a lot more freedom,” said Gómez Meza. “They are able to meet needs and evolve as the community changes.” This is one of the reasons Gómez Meza applied for a job with OPL as a junior in high school. He started working as a library page at South Omaha Library, shelving books and helping patrons to log on to computers. It didn’t take long before he was promoted to a clerk, and then a part-time library specialist working with teens – a position
he held for seven years.
One of the most successful programs that Gómez Meza introduced during this time was video game nights. The program became so popular that there were often waitlists of teens who wanted to attend. He realized that many parents used the program to incentivize their teens to do better in school or at home – allowing them to attend if they kept up their grades or completed their chores. An especially proud moment for Gómez Meza was when a teen came to show him his high school diploma, and credited OPL for helping him to graduate. The student shared that he was permitted to attend game nights if he maintained good grades, and that motivated him to commit to his school work with fervor.
Gómez Meza enjoyed his work with teens, and when he was ready for a change, he applied for a full-time library specialist position. In this role, he shared library programs and services with immigrants and refugees in the community through outreach and community engagement, and spoke to individuals representing a variety of backgrounds, languages and cultures. Many of the people he encountered had grown up with libraries similar to the one he knew in his childhood. It was important for Gómez Meza to not only tell people about how libraries here are different, but also to build relationships and trust, and to show that what he was saying was true. Gómez Meza still works with immigrants and refugees, though since the beginning of the pandemic, outreach efforts have lessened. You can now find Gómez Meza at Millard Branch. Because this is the busiest OPL location in Omaha, Gómez Meza wears a lot of different hats, but all of the work he does involves helping people find what they need.
“I learn from patrons and co-workers everyday,” he said. “I might not know anything about what someone is looking for or needs, but I become a student on the topic to find the answers.”
Gómez Meza stays busy with his work at the library, but still finds time to enjoy some hobbies outside of work, including Mexican folkloric dancing, exercising, and traveling. Gómez Meza and his dancing partner have danced many times at library events, and he hopes to be able to do more of that in the future.
This year, Gómez Meza celebrates 20 years of service to OPL. Join us in congratulating him on this career milestone. On behalf of OPL staff and patrons, we hope Gómez Meza will continue his work at OPL for many more years!