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Santa Monica Hires New City Librarian

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By Daniel Larios
Staff Writer

March 17, 2014 -- Maria Taesil Hudson Carpenter, Director of Libraries from Somerville, Massachusetts, has been tapped to become the new City Librarian of the Santa Monica Public Library System, City officials announced Friday.

Carpenter has extensive experience managing library services and programs and has covered the spectrum of library posts from academic to public, and from instruction to collaborations with community partners, according to City officials.

She also has a strong track record in leadership, innovation and obtaining grants, officials said. Once the hiring process is finalized, she will take charge of city’s award-winning library system in June.

Carpenter, who was selected after a sin-month nationwide search, “has a proven track record as a collaborator, innovator and advocate, and is highly regarded as a team player,” said City Manager Rod Gould. “She will bring a fresh national perspective on what libraries are doing today.”

Carpenter will receive a salary of $186,648 and manage an annual budget of more than $12 million and more than 200 employees.

The Library Department is comprised of a main library and three neighborhood branches. A new neighborhood library, the Pico Branch, is scheduled to open soon in Virginia Avenue Park.

"The Santa Monica Public Library is a civic gem," Gould said. "The outstanding quality of its facilities, services and staff is nationally renowned. I have no doubt that Maria will help us achieve our fifth straight year as a five-star-rated public library, and more."

Prior to directing the libraries at the City of Somerville, Carpenter served as Director of Library Advancement, Marketing and Communications for Northeastern University in Boston. 

"I am delighted to be joining an outstanding group of people working and volunteering for the City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Public Library," said Carpenter.

"I very much look forward to leading Santa Monica's award winning library system, getting to know its people, cultures, and neighborhoods, and together, envisioning the next stage of innovative library services that will optimally serve the community."

The City received applications from 40 candidates from across the nation and sought dozens of others based on reputation and skill, according to officials. The top two performers had interviews with the City Manager and key staff from multiple departments, including the Library management team.

"Ms. Carpenter gives every indication of being a perfect fit for the Library and the community," said Wright Rix, Acting City Librarian. "New England winters notwithstanding, the many parallels between Santa Monica and Boston are quite resonant.

“Ms. Carpenter's educational achievements, relevant work experience and professional vision have impressed all of us," Rix said.

Carpenter succeeds retired City Librarian Greg Mullen.  During Mullen's tenure as City Librarian, the Santa Monica Public Library earned a five star rating from Library Journal’s national rating of public libraries for the past four consecutive years. 

Mullen announced his retirement during the June 6, 2013 Library Board Meeting and officially vacated his post on July 11, 2013.  Rix filled in as Acting City Librarian during the search for Mullen's replacement. 

Mullen left feeling good about what he did and knew it was time to go, officials said.

“Mullen was very effective librarian and terrific guy and we're sorry to see him go,” said Gould.

Carpenter has received nationwide recognition in her profession and holds a Master's Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theater from Ohio Wesleyan University.

She is completing her Ph.D in Managerial Leadership in the Information Professions from Simmons College, which is reputed to be one of the top schools in the country in this discipline.

“She is a dynamo, and her ability to work closely with staff, colleagues and the community will have a great impact on our city,” said Gould.  “We are fortunate to have her ability to lead and create an exciting vision for our public libraries."

In her spare time, Carpenter teaches yoga and hosts and produces a local Somerville television show, The Bonafide Librarian.

“The Bonafide Librarian is a light-hearted variety show that highlights book clubs, local authors, bands, artists, librarians and other librarian picks, by the Bonafide Librarian,” according to the Northeastern University student newspaper, The Hungtington News.

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