From the time new La Jolla Youth Services Librarian Dana Sanchez was a child — about the age of the patrons she will now serve — she knew she wanted to be a librarian. And from the time she was a teen — about the same age as the patrons whose programming she would like to expand — she has been. Sanchez took the reins from former Youth Services Librarian Angie Stava, who transferred to a different branch, in late January.
“I feel really lucky, not everyone knows what they want to be when they grow up and they have this trial-and-error period, and I just always knew what I wanted to do,” she told La Jolla Light.
Sanchez said she grew up in the San Diego Public Library system, with a mother who was a supervising librarian for the Central Library, downtown. “I remember Take Your Daughter to Work Day, when she would bring me. If my mom did an after-hours event, I would go with her and help her out,” she said.
She started volunteering at the Point Loma Hervey Library while she was attending high school across the street, and was hired as a library aide before she graduated. From there, she transferred to the Central Library for a few years. Sanchez then became a substitute librarian, floating from branch to branch. But after a stint at the La Jolla Library, she transferred here for good.
“I love La Jolla, plain and simple, I just love it here,” Sanchez said. “The community is very open to new programs and loves to read. The library is becoming a community space where everyone can get together, help one another ... and we hold a lot of community meetings here. To me, the staff is amazing, the atmosphere is amazing, it feels like a home. You don’t get that in a lot of libraries. I specifically wanted to transfer here.”
When she arrived, seeking a project to call her own, Sanchez was tasked with setting up the Memory Lab, which houses equipment to digitize information from older media such as floppy disks and slides.
“I researched what kind of equipment we would need, ordered the equipment, inventoried it, set it all up and made wiring diagrams,” she said. “It was really difficult because it was all stuff I never used, and I had to learn how to put everything together and make it work. I then set up the appointment booking system and trained volunteers. Now it’s all running smoothly.”
As the Youth Services Librarian, Sanchez said she wants to expand programming for teens and tweens.
“A lot of libraries, unfortunately, really only focus on the young kids,” she said. “There’s this gap between middle school-aged students and adults. There are a few programs here and there, but nothing focusing on teens. But you want to catch those older kids and teens so they become lifelong library-users. That is my passion: catching them at that very influential time in their lives, beyond when their parents bring them here. I want them to come on their own and want to come here. I want them to feel ownership and not feel like they are intruding or they’re not valued.”
But, that’s not to say she won’t have exciting programs for the littlest readers as well.
“I teach kids at the church I go to, and my favorite age group is 3- to 4-year-olds; they are so darling,” she said. “I want parents to feel comfortable when they come to the library ... I want parents to know I’m here for them and for their children. I have some ideas for the future here in the kids and teen sections, and I can’t wait to be a part of this amazing community.”
Branch manager Shaun Briley said of Sanchez, “While we are very sad to see Angie (Stava) move on, Dana is the best possible replacement. She is kind and helpful and a real go-getter when it comes to projects. Dana has been with us here in La Jolla for about two years and really understands the branch. She’s going to do a terrific job and really grow into the position.”
— La Jolla Riford Library is open 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; and 12:30-5 p.m. Sunday at 7555 Draper Ave. For a schedule of youth programs, visit lajollalibrary.org/events or call (858) 552-1657.