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City Turns Page in Library Leadership

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By Jorge Casuso

August 2, 2021 -- Erica Cuyugan -- who manages system-wide library operations -- will replace City Librarian Patty Wong when she leaves her post September 5, City officials announced Monday.

Cuyugan, who was appointed to serve on an interim basis by Inerim City Manager John Jalili, has worked at the depaartment for 15 years, officials said.

“Erica is someone who has proven herself as a dedicated library leader time and again, having taken the helm once before on an interim basis in 2016,” Jalili said.

“She’s exactly the person to see us through this transition and as our Library team continues to provide service in new ways.”

Cuyugan -- who was hired as a Teen Services Librarian in 2006 -- worked her way up the ranks to become the Fairview Branch Manager before joining the leadership team in 2015, officials said.

As Assistant City Librarian, Cuyugan oversees the Library’s $8,470,145 budget, staff of 47 and capital projects.

Cuyugan represents the Library in the City’s Emergency Operations Center and has been "integral" in the City's efforts to safely staff and reopen the library branches.

Before the COVID-19 emergency shut down City facilities in March 2020, she helped lead a collaborative pilot in Santa Monica libraries "to address homeless issues, including executing pop-up clinics with service providers," officials said.

Cuyugan was selected one week after Wong announced she would leave the City to become library director for the City of Santa Clara.

Since being hired as library director in 2017, Wong -- who is president of the American Library Association -- has been a staunch advocate of lifelong learning and has worked to "enhance equity and social justice," officials said

She increased grant funding from the California State Library for Adult Literacy and Families for Literacy and served as a lead member of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity.

"Always a compassionate leader, Wong championed the library as a space for all people, while also hiring social workers to support connections to services and housing for patrons experiencing homelessness," City officials said.

An executive search for our next City Librarian will begin this summer and more information will be provided once the details are confirmed.

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