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Santa Monica's Head Librarian Resigns
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By Lookout Staff

July 28, 2016 -- A little more than two years after becoming Santa Monica's head librarian, Maria Carpenter is headed across the country back home, City officials announced Wednesday.

Carpenter resigned as library director to "pursue professional opportunities close to her family on the East Coast," where she will head the Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts, officials said.

Before assuming the Santa Monica post, Carpenter was Director of Libraries for Somerville, Massachusetts, a town less than two miles from Cambridge.

Assistant City Librarian Erica Cuyugan will serve as the interim Library Director while the City conducts a national search for Carpenter's successor, City officials said.

“Maria has been an outstanding leader who has set the standard for what a 21st Century library looks like through the Library Strategic Plan that she initiated,” said City Manager Rick Cole.

“We have a beloved local library system which continues to be on the cutting edge of public innovation," Cole said. "Maria has provided exceptional vision that will leave a lasting legacy. We will miss her, but are grateful for her dynamism, dedication, and inspiration.”

During her tenure, Carpenter developed the Library’s Strategic Plan, a year-long comprehensive analysis that looked closely at where local library services currently stand and how the system could be improved ("New Santa Monica Librarian Wants to Change Way Libraries Are Used," March 11, 2015).

She also created the Library Foundation, which is comprised of community leaders working to create a cultural hub; SMPL at the Beach, a series of seaside pop-up libraries, and mobile computer classes.

In addition, Carpenter oversaw the renovation of the Fairview Branch Library and launched YALLWEST, Santa Monica's first young adult book festival, which drew 5,000 participants last December.

Hired in June 2014, Carpenter brought extensive experience managing library services and programs at both academic and public libraries, where she forged collaborations with community partners, according to City officials.

Carpenter was selected to head the Santa Monica library system after a six-month nationwide search and received a starting salary of $186,648.

The Library Department is comprised of a main library and four neighborhood branches. It has an annual budget of more than $12 million and more than 200 employees.

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