By Lance Jacobs, Foundation and Friends Volunteer
June of 2010 saw the appointment of Julie Passalacqua as the new Santa Clara City Librarian. While this post is something new for Julie, there is little she has not experienced in her 35-year tenure with the Santa Clara City Library. Previously the Assistant City Librarian, Julie has now stepped into the driver’s seat of an award-winning institution that lends out more than 2.78 million items annually.
Julie got her start as a library assistant while an undergraduate at Santa Clara University, where filing catalog cards in the university’s massive catalog rooms was one of her jobs. As her knowledge grew, so did her abilities and her desire to help fellow students navigate the system to find what they needed. Today Julie maintains: “It’s not really about the books, it’s about the people! Connecting the community to the materials and resources available at the Library is essential, as well as providing a space for people of all ages and cultures to come together for programs, workshops and celebrations.” Since the Library had over 1.4 million visitors last year, a penchant for helping people is certainly key to making things work.
The recent economic downturn has impacted the Library in unfortunate ways: budget cuts trans- late into reduced library hours, which leads to bigger crowds and longer waits; staff reductions mean fewer people doing the same amount of work; library facilities become used, worn and broken, and questions linger about what should be prioritized—can you imagine what 2.8 million footsteps actually do to carpet? Dealing with problems like these is part of the daily balancing act that is Julie’s job.
While technology continues to alter the Library experience, Julie’s mission for the Library remains essentially unchanged: to help as many people as possible gain access to the Library and its materials. This encompasses not only books and magazines, but also summer reading programs for kids and adults, Internet access, and programming from diverse sources such as Kaiser Permanente, the Mission City Opera, and Agilent Technology’s hands-on science for kids.