A familiar face from the Milpitas Library has become Deputy County Librarian of Community Library Development for the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD).
Stephen Fitzgerald stepped into his new role earlier this month, on April 5. In an exclusive interview with The Beat, he gave more detail about the role: “Working closely with the County Librarian and administrative team, I will help plan, implement, and communicate how the library is meeting and will meet the information needs of our patrons. I’ll also be responsible for working with our management team to look at library services and staffing.”
Fitzgerald’s career with SCCLD goes back to 2007, when he started working as Librarian for the Los Altos Library. Next, he went to the Cupertino Library, where he became the Supervising Librarian for Adults and Teens. At the Milpitas Library, starting in 2014, Fitzgerald served as Community Librarian. Prior to exiting the Milpitas position, he worked as the Library Services Manager for Literacy and Learning.
Said Fitzgerald in our interview, he has “always been extremely grateful for being able to work in such a great environment with fantastic colleagues, and one of the great aspects of my new position is that I get to interact with a lot more staff on a regular basis. The Library District is always exploring new ideas and the creativity and thoughtfulness with which they engage our patrons is really fun to be a part of.”
In 2016, Fitzgerald was awarded the Employee Excellence Award. Also, a Smithsonian exhibit called “Exploring Human Origins” came to Santa Clara County in part as a result of Fitzgerald’s committed efforts. And he played a key role in launching passport services for library visitors.
In his new position, Fitzgerald will lead the process of bringing SCCLD back to providing full public services as the COVID-19 pandemic settles down. He shall also attend to developing top-quality library services. “Right now,” he told The Beat, “we are completely focused on reopening our library spaces on April 19th. We’re excited that our patrons will be back in our buildings again to take advantage of all that our libraries have to offer!”
Asked how the pandemic has impacted his work, he shared, “There have certainly been some challenges. When our libraries closed in March 2020 we quickly moved to an exclusively online environment. Fortunately, we had infrastructure tools in place to quickly make this adjustment.”
As the year unfolded, Fitzgerald and his colleagues experimented with projects and services in an effort to consistently serve their patrons in new ways. One such way was taking their programs online with new technologies: “It’s definitely been a learning experience. Much of what we’ve learned we’ll keep in mind as we adjust to expanding our services and fully opening our buildings.”
In an official statement about Fitzgerald’s hiring, County Librarian Jennifer Weeks offered her colleague praise: “Steve brings a calm leadership style and strong dedication to improving public library experiences. He knows the ins and outs of the library system, having worked at several of our Community Libraries and the Services and Support Center for over 14 years. We are fortunate to have his expertise as we move ahead in these new times.”
Before saying goodbye, we asked Fitzgerald about the best part of being a librarian. He said, “Working with our patrons. It’s very gratifying to help them find materials, introduce them to new genres or authors, or talk about the many services the library has to offer. The library is all about lifelong learning and to be able to positively affect our community in a way that is educational, informative, and transformative is truly special.”