Library assistant wins employee of the quarter with hard work, her smile

September 14, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Lizeth Soberanes' smile has to be one of the reasons the 23-year-old assistant librarian was recently named the city of Calexico's employee of the quarter.

She was officially honored "because of my hard work," she smiled and laughed as she said that.

She couldn't help it. She knows.

It was her smile.

The friendly and personable 23-year-old has worked at the city's Camarena Memorial Library since November 1997.

Lately her workload has been bumped up to 30 hours a week and she carries a full load at Imperial Valley College as an international business major.

Every Tuesday she runs a computer training class that introduces Calexico's digital neophytes to the intricacies of the Internet.

When she's not running the class she's working behind the front desk with her fellow assistants processing stacks upon stacks of books for the shelves.


Recently, she was honored by Mayor Victor Carrillo and her boss, city head Librarian Sandra Tauler.

She is the first library employee to be named employee of the quarter and, in addition to a plaque, the city ponied up a $200 bonus.

"I put it in the bank and then quickly withdrew it," she said with a big grin.

The money went toward clothes.

"Yeah, that's right," she said and laughed.

Doesn't she think the public works crew members are jealous of her windfall and extravagant shopping sprees, since they toil in 110-degree heat repairing city streets while she helps kids in the air-conditioned comfort of the library?

She laughed, smiled and shook her head, "Nah."

So far everyone has been happy for her.

She said her fellow assistant librarians are proud of her and threw her a party after she was awarded the plaque at a recent City Council meeting.

She's been called "fun" and "professional" by co-workers. She said they haven't shunned her in the wake of her newfound celebrity.

Soberanes said she just likes to help people.

"It feels good when you help someone and they appreciate it."

What about books? She works in a library. She must be a veritable bookworm!

She's surrounded by "Call me, Ishmael," "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …," "Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy." and "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

(For those playing along at home, those were "Moby Dick," "Tale of Two Cities," "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" and "Pride and Prejudice.")

So what sort of books is she reading?

"Uhmmm … well …" She smiled and laughed and — was that a blush?

It turns out she has had her nose in a book for one of her Imperial Valley College classes, "Autobiography of Malcolm X."

What is her average day at the library like?

First she turns on the computer.

Then she loads the program that allows her to process books into the system.

Now we're talkin'! Inside library info! Library All Access.

"Right," she said.

"After I turn on the computer and get the program I look for the book to see if we have it in stock," she said.

If she does she marks the book as copy 2, or copy 3. Well, she'd only mark it as copy 2 if the library had only one other copy and … you get the idea.

If the library doesn't have it she has to check to see what library's across the country do, "from the Chula Vista branch to the Library of Congress."

Once she has that information entered into the computer she can put the book in a pile for shelving and start processing another book.

She said that is her favorite part of the job.

She also enjoys working at the library when the place is full of noisy kids.

Whoa there, Soberanes. Aren't librarians supposed to be mean, sensible-shoe-wearing women intent on maintaining silence?

"No way," she said. "I wouldn't want to work here if it is like that. It's good when there is a lot of people."

She smiled.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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