After four years of building up the Pickleweed Library in San Rafael from scratch, Linda Kenton is excited about her new job as the San Anselmo Town Librarian.
"I feel in a really good place," said Kenton.
Though the two communities might be different, Kenton thinks the opportunities for growth and change were very similar at Pickleweed and now San Anselmo. The Pickleweed Library had to be "built from the ground up," she said, with a remodel and expanded services that will continue to grow. The San Anselmo Library is in the midst of a revitalization that centers on deciding what to do with the money that will be generated by the $49 per parcel tax that was passed by voters in June.
To that end, Kenton is encouraging residents to fill out a community survey asking what services they would like to see expanded. The focus, so far, has been on extending hours and bringing back a children's librarian, but Kenton wants to know what the community wants first.
"It's designed to let people tell us what they like and what they'd like to see," she said. Those suggestions can cover everything from what specific hours you think the library should be open to what kinds of new services you'd like to see added.
The survey can be taken online at the library's website or paper copies are available at the front desk of the library.
Children's services are of particular importance to Kenton, who worked at the Palo Alto Children's Library before starting in San Rafael in 1999. In San Rafael, she was the teen librarian, where she started the first teen services program, before heading up Pickleweed.
"I really have a strong passion for literacy and really starting children off right," she said, pointing out that reading follows kids in nearly every subject in school, not just in English class. If you can teach a kid to read and get them engaged in the subject and "show them the magic and wonder of reading," she said, then you can point them in the right direction. She serves on the Board of the Marin Literacy program, as well.
Kenton, herself, was a huge reader as a kid. In sixth grade, her teacher had bookworm stickers for all the students, where each little dot of the worm was for another book the kids had read. Kenton's bookworm was the longest out of the class.
Along with any reading she gets to do in her free time, Kenton enjoys cooking and gardening. Her family – including her nine-year-old son, who is himself an avid reader – is also a big backpacking family, she said. They moved to Fairfax 11 years ago, when her husband's work moved him from Menlo Park to San Rafael, and have loved everything that Fairfax has to offer.
The job in San Anselmo was a perfect opportunity, then, to work closer to home and have the chance to help guide this library in its new direction.
"I consider this a real jewel," she said.
Kenton is replacing Sara Loyster, who retired as the library director in July after 13 years on the job. Kenton will earn $108,000 in the position.