2012 Gale/LJ Library of the Year: San Diego County Library, Empowering the Public
“Despite massive budget cuts in a time of overwhelming need for California residents, the San Diego County Library has demonstrated ingenuity, creativity and perseverance in serving the needs of all residents-and has done so with record-breaking success,” said Francine Fialkoff, editor-in-chief,Library Journal. “We’re thrilled to name them Library of the Year.”
The SDCL has been serving the community for almost a century, and it currently serves a population of over one million. Its 33 branches cover a county bigger than the state of Connecticut, and one that includes an international border, mountains, shoreline, desert, city and suburbs. Like most California libraries, the SDCL has faced dire budget cuts-30% over the last three years-but through unique programming and strategic budget allocation has managed to triple its materials circulation and quadruple program attendance over the last six years. At the same time, SDCL has implemented an ambitious capital improvement program, retained all staff and greatly increased volunteer numbers.
Under the leadership of Director Jose Aponte, SDCL has moved toward automating more services and reconfiguring library spaces in order to increase staff’s face-to-face time helping customers. “Floating” collections organized via state-of-the-art technology and regional consortia have boosted stagnant circulation even with a drastically depleted materials budget. Circulation has increased to 12.4 million items, tripling from 4.1 million in 2008. However, it is in the area of programming where SDCL shines the brightest.
From his arrival, Aponte encouraged all staff to develop programming ideas for library customers of all ages – and everyone has stepped up. Last year, the SDCL offered more than 22,000 programs, an average of 60 programs every calendar day, with an attendance of nearly half of a million.
LIBRARY OF THE YEAR 2012 JUDGES
LJ thanks the following library professionals who volunteered their valuable time to help select the 2012 Library of the Year:
Roberta Stevens, Immediate Past President,
American Library Association
Luis Herrera, Director, San Francisco Public Library;
LJ 2012 Librarian of the Year
Bill Ptacek, Director, King County Library System, WA;
LJ 2011 Library of the Year
Julie Hildebrand, Director, Independence Public Library, KS;
LJ 2012 Best Small Library in America
Nader M. Qaimari, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Gale|Cengage Learning
The panel also includes LJ’s John N. Berry III, Francine Fialkoff, Josh Hadro, Michael Kelley, & Meredith Schwartz
By PR Newswire