City Hall isn’t planning any changes in the City Library organization, despite rumors. But the appointment of a long-time associate of City Manager Deanna Santana to the City Library raises the questions of cronyism that have dogged Santana since she was appointed in 2017.
“There is no library department reorganization that is underway,” City PIO Lenka Wright told The Weekly in an email. “Santa Clara City Library will remain its own department in the City of Santa Clara and there has never been any plan to change it.”
Sources close to City Hall say questions are being raised about the appointment of an uncredentialed interim librarian.
When City Librarian Hilary Keith retired, City Manager Deanna Santana appointed Assistant City Manager Cynthia Bojorquez as interim City Librarian.
Bojorquez came to Santa Clara in 2019 from Sunnyvale. She was hired into a newly created Assistant City Manager position at a top-of-the-scale salary of $335,000. Her previous salary was $236,000.
In Sunnyvale, Bojorquez was director of Sunnyvale’s combined Library and Recreation Department. Prior to that she was director of Campbell’s and Salinas’ similarly combined library and recreation departments.
Previously, she was Deputy Director in the San Jose City Manager’s office for 20 years, 10 of those years when Santana was Deputy City Manager.
Bojorquez’ credentials do not include a degree in library science nor work as a librarian. She holds a BA in political science.
This is a contrast both to recently retired City Librarian Hilary Keith and current City Assistant Librarian Paul Sims.
Keith holds a BA in English, a Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) and two decades of experience working as a librarian, including Director of Library and Cultural Services in Santa Fe Springs. Keith retired with a salary of $227,592 after six years in Santa Clara.
Like Keith, Assistant City Librarian Paul Sims holds a BA in English and an MLIS. He has 15 years of experience as a librarian — as well as three years as a lecturer at San Jose State — including five years as Mountain View’s Library Services Manager. Sims has worked in Santa Clara for five years and currently receives a $194,541 salary.
The City says that Bojorquez’s interim appointment came from the need to act quickly.
“With the retirement of City Librarian Hilary Keith, the City Manager acted promptly with appointing Cynthia Bojorquez as the Acting City Librarian during this time of transition at the Santa Clara City Library,” Wright told The Weekly.
“Bojorquez has the senior leadership experience as a city librarian for both the cities of Sunnyvale and Salinas, among her many other professional accomplishments, to take on this temporary executive role at the Library. Thanks to Bojorquez’ willingness to serve in this acting role, the City will have cost savings as she maintains her responsibilities as an Assistant City Manager.”
Keith announced her retirement last February. The City says that the search for a new City Librarian will commence in 2021.
Santa Clara’s Long Library History
Santa Clara has had libraries in the City since about 1850. But when the Town Council proposed a City Library 1902, voters turned it down.
Nonetheless, the Town Council approved a City Library in 1903 and in 1914 gave the Library permanent space in the then-new City Hall (demolished in 1965). The library operated fairly independently, run by a board of trustees.
In 1951, the first Santa Clara City Manager Joseph Base “deplored” the state of the City Library. But Santa Clara voters again voted against the library, this time against a bond to finance a library building.
It was the determination of some Santa Clara women that gave the City today’s award-winning library.
In 1953, three women on the library board — Thelma Keech, Dorothy Dossee, and Alice Squires — sparked an ambitious library development program and hiring the City’s first trained librarian, Frances M. Klune.
Klune was responsible for the Library’s first multi-media offerings: phonograph records and films. The library continued Klune’s forward thinking, introducing Internet services in the mid-1990s.
Historical information from “A Brief History of the Santa Clara Library” by Frances Klune and updated by Mary Hanel in 2004. You can find it at the City Central Library.