At the end of March, State Senator Bob Wieckowski hosted his 2nd Annual Women of the Year Ceremony at the Berryessa Branch Library. One of the three women honored was Hilary Keith, Director of the Santa Clara City Library. During the 2015-16 fiscal year, the Santa Clara City Libraries (Central Park Library, Mission Library and Northside Library) checked out 2,606,691 items, had 1,013,064 visits, offered programs to 85,931 people, and issued 17,674 new library cards. The library’s Comic Con, STEM Bowl, STEM Central, and summer reading programs are just a few of the many programs Keith supports her staff to organize.
“Libraries are wonderful learning environments that enhance our communities,” Wieckowski said. “Hilary’s leadership in helping Santa Clara’s libraries provide an array of quality programs and services is outstanding and worthy of this recognition.”
“Senator Wieckowski and the library Board of Trustees were instrumental in getting the Northside Library open after many setbacks,” Keith said. “I’m tremendously honored and pleased to be recognized and this shows how much help and support I get from the community and from Mayor Lisa Gillmor, the City Council and the City Manager Rajeev Batra. I feel grateful for a staff that is engaged and imaginative.”
Keith is an active member of the American Library Association (ALA) as well as the California Library Association (CLA) where she served on the Executive Board. (Keith is excited to announce the CLA is hosting its 2018 conference here in Santa Clara.)
In a press release, Wiekowski recognized Keith for her leadership to help prepare for Northside Library’s grand opening and her advocacy for renovations at Mission Library.
“When I first started here in April 2014, the Northside Library was empty and the RDA had just cleared the way to finish it,” Keith said. “I had a lot of support from former Mayor Jamie Matthews, the City Council, and other city departments. Aug. 9 was the date we were slated to open. It gave me only four months to get the Northside Library furnished and staffed and to get the books and materials stocked. That was a challenge and luckily I have an exceptional staff that was determined to make this happen.”
Keith got the idea for the Mission Library renovations after Northside Library opened.
“Seeing that since we came under budget to open Northside Library, I thought it would be nice to use the remainder of that money to fund Mission Library renovations,” Keith said. “Fortunately, the City Council and former City Manager Julio Fuentes agreed with my proposal and we started moving forward. The renovated library will be a neighborhood hub and fit right in with the downtown Franklin Mall area. I’m hoping we will see a renaissance in that area and the library will be a big part of it. Tentatively, the library will be finished in the first quarter of 2018.”
Keith also shared two things the community can look forward to–a book mobile and the elimination of daily fines on overdue children’s books. Both items, once on Keith’s wish list, will soon become reality.
“In Oct. 2016, the Irvine Company donated $250,000 to the City to purchase a book mobile; the book mobile should be ready sometime later this year,” Keith said. “We envision the book mobile service to be geared toward meeting the changing community needs. We can serve people where they learn, work, live and play. First, we proposed a morning service to neighborhoods and senior facilities, lunch time service to corporate campuses, afternoon stops to schools and weekend and evening stops to City and community events, such as the Art and Wine Festival and the Tree Lighting Festival.”
From Keith’s observations, fines for overdue books punish and alienate the very people who need libraries the most.
“Recently, the Council adopted a resolution adopting the City of Santa Clara’s municipal fees schedule [for] 2017 to 2018; in it, the library had proposed eliminating the daily fines on children’s books,” Keith said. “If a book is very long overdue, the card holder will be responsible for the cost of the item. This policy will go into effect on July 1. Wouldn’t that be nice for summer reading?”