As a child, Hilary Keith loved going to the library. Her house was always filled with library books. Keith was a lover of books at such a young age that reading came naturally to her. So it makes sense that Keith would grow up to be a librarian and the new director of the Santa Clara City Library.
“My first day at the Santa Clara City Library was April 28 of this year,” Keith says. “The staff here is extraordinary. I’m also excited that the Northside Library has just opened.”
Keith acknowledges that the library system is straddling two universes, one that embraces technology, such as e-books and downloadable music, and the other that
still utilizes traditional materials, including print books and DVDs.
“My goal is to continue giving patrons what they want and need in a timely manner,” Keith says. “Libraries are a community space and a great source of civic pride. I want to keep looking at innovative ways to serve the public. For example, I’m interested in providing opportunities for our users and patrons to create their own content, rather than just coming to the library to consume. I would like to be able to create a lab or ‘makers space’ where people can have an opportunity to create their own content [with software and digital editing tools].”
Keith hopes to develop more adult programs. She acknowledges the innovative and creative spirit that defines Silicon Valley and hopes to host a lecture series in the near future where prominent guest speakers can talk about their work in maker spaces. In the meantime, a new library grant assisting newcomers called “Getting Started” is taking off.
“We have workshops that will help new immigrants learn to assimilate,” Keith says. “We’ll have family nights, book groups, ESL classes, all where people can come and meet other people. It’d be nice to host a naturalization ceremony. With our grant, we bought something called the Pronunciator. It’s online and it helps people with their pronunciation.”
Keith clears up misconceptions some might have about the purpose of libraries.
“One misconception people have is that with Google and the Internet around, the library isn’t needed anymore,” she says. “Google can give you 10,000 answers to a question, but a librarian will give you the right answer. And also, people need a community space, such as their local library, to congregate in.”
Keith graduated from San Jose State University and California Polytechnic State University of San Luis Obispo. Her roles have included being the senior administrative librarian of the Orange County Public Library and the director of library and cultural services in the City of Santa Fe Springs. She enjoys serving the Santa Clara community through her work at the library.
“Being in a position where I can help people and give them opportunities to succeed is really satisfying,” Keith says.