Two weeks after the Marin County Board of Supervisors honored Gail Haar upon her retirement as director of the Marin County Free Library, county officials announced Wednesday that the former director of the state library in Nevada has been hired to replace her.
Sara Jones, a librarian since 1988 and the current director of the library system in Carson City, Nevada, will be appointed by the board on April 16, and starts July 8, according to County Administrator Matthew Hymel. Jones’ starting salary will be $150,134.
Haar, who retired March 29, led the county's library system since 2007. The Marin County Free Library includes the Fairfax Library across from St. Rita's Church, as well as branches in Bolinas, the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Inverness, Marin City, Point Reyes Station and Stinson Beach.
An Idaho native and 25-year Nevada resident, Jones was Nevada’s co-Librarian of the Year in 2012. In her current position, she oversee 55 full-time and contract workers and an annual operating budget of about $2 million.
The Marin County Free Library has about 200 employees, roughly 60 percent full-time, in 10 branches and a budget of about $16 million.
“I am thrilled with the opportunity to lead the library system and provide the residents of Marin County exceptional resources and service,” Jones said in a statement. “Public libraries are more important than ever in our lives. They give a safe and trusted place for learning, provide recreation and, perhaps most importantly, connect people and ideas.”
County officials hailed Jones' efforts to improve the technological tools available in the Carson City system, expanding the number of public access computers from 10 in 2007 to 118 today. Jones also created a media lab, opened a business branch library, opened a branch at a Boys and Girls Club and expanded the e-book collection.
Tammy Westergard, Deputy Director of the Carson City Library, said Jones’ ability to foster public-private partnerships and secure grants was critical to the library system’s upgrades. She said the respect Jones earned from library staff was key to the transformation.
“Marin is inheriting a great leader,” Westergard said. “Sara understands why public libraries matter. She is very authentic, a consummate professional and extraordinary on so many levels. She gave our staff ownership by incorporating a team approach that was well-received and won over the rank-and-file. I think she was successful because she celebrated the small successes along with the big ones.”
Jones earned an undergraduate degree from Boise State University in interpersonal communications and a master’s degree from Syracuse University in library and information science. She anticipates completion of her Ph.D. in library science later this year from the University of North Texas.
Jones started her library career as a youth services librarian in Elko, Nev., and served more than six years as the library’s director. In addition to her duties as a librarian, Jones has been an adjunct professor of library science at North Texas and at San Jose State University. She has helped raise more than $15 million as a grant writer and served on the boards of several library associations.
Jones said she is particularly impressed with the Marin County Free Library system’s breadth and diversity.
“I look forward to learning about the aspirations of the communities, the library employees and Marin County leadership for the future of the system,” she said.
Jones, who has family in Sonoma and Yolo counties, has been married 29 years to a certified public accountant and has a 19-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter. Jones describes herself as an avid fan of the San Francisco Giants and San Francisco 49ers and enjoys outdoor recreation with her family.
“I can't believe how lucky I am to be moving to such a beautiful, diverse and community-centered county,” she said.
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