With 33 years of library service — the last six at La Jolla’s Riford Branch (and a few at La Jolla Country Day School) — Catherine Greene, La Jolla’s head librarian, will retire June 27.
“I am immensely grateful for having worked here. I’m very lucky,” she said, adding that the people she has come across have enriched her experiences. “People in this town are readers. They know what they are interested in, they know books and that is really fun for me.”
She also said the Friends of La Jolla Library have been great to work with, and the patrons are what she will miss the most.
“The whole place is so receptive to books and programming that it’s like a party all the time,” she said. “Sometimes I would think, ‘I get paid to do this?’ ”
Amy Valeiras, Friends of La Jolla Library board member, said a Catherine Greene Endowment has been set up at the San Diego Public Library Foundation to “provide funds for books and materials to La Jolla and the library system in Catherine’s name every year.” Contributions can be made to the fund at
“La Jolla has benefitted from Catherine Greene’s passion and curiosity for literacy and information,” Valeiras said. “She is known throughout the San Diego Library system as the best-read librarian in the city, and she worked collaboratively with the Friends to make all their events and daily book sales successful.”
Having waited to announce her retirement until the last minute possible, Greene is exiting through a program the city offers.
“I made a commitment to the city five years ago, that I would retire within five years,” she explained. “I think it’s been exactly five years.”
Greene said she knew long ago that she would be a librarian for as long as she could. One day, while working for Merrill Lynch on Wall Street in New York, she asked herself, “What could I see myself doing until I’m 65?”
“So I sat down with a legal pad to write down everything I could think of doing, no matter where I lived,” she said. She could only come up with one job: librarian.
Her San Diego library history began in 1981 at the old Central Library downtown, although she was living in La Jolla at the time. “I was in the literature section, where I did the ordering for philosophy, religion, psychology and foreign literature, which was really fun because there is so much you don’t know and I got to read about all that stuff.”
She also worked part time at the La Jolla Country Day school library (1981-1989) while her three children — Clint, Polly and Emily — were in school, so she could have a schedule that matched theirs.
In 2006, she moved to the Mountain View/Beckwourth library in southern San Diego. “That branch stole a piece of my heart, they just needed so much. They have no money, not like this place,” she said.