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Justin Wasterlain: Connecting Libraries with Community

At the end of September, Mission Branch Library hosted a grand reopening so community members could view its renovations. Justin Wasterlain, Acting Program Coordinator, is now overseeing the operations of this library. Previously a Reference Librarian at the Adult Services Department at Central Park Library, Wasterlain is a familiar presence with the Santa Clara City Library.

“At this point, I’m doing much more than just Adult Services reference,” Wasterlain said. “I’m becoming a children’s librarian. I’m selecting materials for all ages and patron types. I’m doing programs for everyone who walks through the door. We’re realizing that many of our patrons have young families. As we see people who come through the door and come back to us, we’re learning more about these people and what we can provide for them.”

Mission Branch Library is now a full-service library and offers programs for all age groups. On Nov. 17, Dinosaurs Rock will lead a children’s program here. Bearing museum-quality fossils, the group will facilitate an interactive program that will end with a fossil dig.

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“On Nov. 28, we have a parenting program related to children with autism,” Wasterlain added. “On Dec. 1, we have another children’s program where the Bay Area Discovery Museum will come out and set up a nature workshop. [Museum representatives] will be dissecting leaves to teach the children about the natural environment around them.”

According to Wasterlain, the City of Santa Clara has been working on “placemaking,” with the intention to activate spaces in the City to make them more welcoming for residents.

“Currently, we’re trying to make Mission Branch Library and the park that surrounds us to be a more engaging environment for the people who come,” Wasterlain said. “That would include using the outdoors for programs. We’ve talked about using the outdoor gazebo for yoga or tai chi. Generally, we want to utilize the park. I hope to tie some things with what’s happening during the year. For example, during Superbowl season, I might like to host flag football for the kids. I’d like to have things that people can check out — like Frisbees and sports equipment — so people can make more use of the space that is available here.”

Although Wasterlain lives in San Francisco, he was born and raised in Santa Clara. When Wasterlain was 16, he landed a job at Central Park Library. He has been working for the Santa Clara City Library for 21 years. At San Jose State University, he earned his Master’s Degree in Library Science.

“It was a convenient job for me in high school and college,” Wasterlain said of his roots in the Santa Clara City Library. “I really enjoy working with the people I work with. My co-workers and I formed a family unit in the Circulation Department I was working in. As I kept moving up in the organization, I got better connected with the community. I wanted to find more effective ways of working with community members.”

Wasterlain is currently reading “Clock Dance” by Anne Tyler for a book group at Mission Branch Library. In his spare time, he likes to play different musical instruments.

Visit santaclaraca.gov/government/departments/library/events to view more details about events at Mission Branch Library and at other libraries with the Santa Clara City Library.

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