February 17, 2018

CA State Librarian Hildreth To Head Seattle Public Library

By Lynn Blumenstein

  • Currently California State Librarian
  • Was San Francisco city librarian
  • Former PLA president

Susan Hildreth, currently state librarian of California, has been selected to lead the Seattle Public Library (SPLSusan Hildreth). Seattle’s five-member board made a unanimous decision November 24 after a nationwide search. Known in the field as an excellent administrator, as city librarian/CEO, Hildreth will oversee a $50 million budget, 710 employees, and facilities that include the central library, 26 recently replaced or renovated branches, and a mobile services division. She will report to the library board, who are citizen volunteers appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council. Hildreth is expected to begin her new position in early 2009. She succeeds Deborah Jacobs, who left the post in July.

SPL board president Eric Liu said in an official statement that Hildreth impressed the trustees with her leadership qualities and extensive professional credentials. “Susan has the clarity, focus and passion to lead our library into this exciting new chapter,” Liu said. “She’s got deep experience, great ideas, and a capacity to listen and learn. From a strong pool of finalists, Susan emerged as the clear choice.” Each finalist spent a day in Seattle meeting with trustees, administration, and staff, as well as with library foundation and Friends members. Other finalists included Jane Light, director of the San Jose Public Library, CA, and Rivkah Sass, director of the Omaha Public Library.

Hildreth has spent the last four years as California’s state librarian. California’s state library, the largest in the nation, has an annual budget of $75 million and includes services for the executive branch, the state legislature, and all state employees. Hildreth is responsible for the annual distribution of more than $16 million in federal funding and $59 million in state funding. She also supervises a $350 million public library construction bond program and a $128 million cultural facilities program.

Previously, as city librarian at the San Francisco Public Library, she helped develop the system’s successful $109 million branch bond program, which involved renovating 19 branches and building five new facilities. She also spent five years as deputy library director at the Sacramento Public Library, several years as Placer County’s head librarian, and four years as library director for Benicia Public Library, all in California. She began her career as a branch librarian at the Edison Township Library in New Jersey.

Hildreth served as president of the Public Library Association in 2006. She has a master’s degree in library science from the State University of New York at Albany, a master’s degree in business administration from Rutgers University, NJ, and a bachelor of arts, cum laude, from Syracuse University, NY.

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