LJ librarian loves books and serving local patrons

By Emily Lupton


“I love reading - I’m such a nerd,” says Catherine Greene, branch manager of the La Jolla Riford Library, noting that her adoration of books and passion for libraries are why she likes her job.

Greene came to the La Jolla Riford Library in May 2008 and has many duties as branch manager. It’s common to find her smiling at the reference desk in the front of the library doing her favorite part of her job, answering questions and recommending books to patrons.

Greene remarks that at the library “we are happy to serve all of our patrons.”

In fact, on her desk in her office is a large stack of note cards detailing just a small portion of the books that she has read and might recommend. In that pile, you might find her favorite book, “Crime and Punishment,” or literature from foreign authors.

Readers’ choices are not limited to Greene’s recommendations, as there are 120,000 items in total at the library. The library’s material circulation is impressive. In September alone, about 20,000 books, CDs, magazines, videos, and other items were checked out.

Greene estimates from those figures that approximately 240,000 items are circulated in one year.

Something for everyone

The Jacobs Annex is another asset exclusive to the La Jolla Library. This wing of the library offers an extensive collection of materials for children that require a different kind of expertise to manage. This is why Greene says that she is lucky to be aided by Laurie Bailey, the branch’s youth librarian.

Bailey’s job is to run story time and other activities for youth, and to know exactly what level of materials will suit every child who comes to her.

“She’s amazing, smart, and has a way with people and kids,” Greene said. “This community is lucky; many libraries don’t have the budget for a full-time youth services librarian.”

Because Greene has worked in many different libraries in varying locations, she knows how well endowed the La Jolla library is in comparison to those with fewer resources.

At a library in Southeast San Diego, she said she saw how many of the children who used the library needed the resources there due to lack of resources at home. The library itself didn’t have much money, but she found that working there and interacting with the patrons was very rewarding, she added.

Career change

Greene generally enjoys working in libraries, but it is not the only type of career she’s specialized in.

Before becoming a librarian, Greene attended college at George Washington University, Texas A & M University and Columbia University. The first two schools are where she earned degrees in economics, leading to one of her first jobs as a government securities economist at Merrill Lynch.

She worked there from 1973 to ’74, but said she decided that although the career was remunerative, it was unsatisfactory. Greene chose to attend Columbia University where she received her master of library science degree in 1976.

Greene has spent the years since in seven different libraries, from New York City to Massachusetts before landing in San Diego. One of the libraries was at La Jolla Country Day School, which her children attended.

Throughout the years, she has gained a lot of experience in the various roles she had in libraries. Her title moved gradually from librarian to assistant director, and finally, branch manager.

A long line of library work behind her, Greene said she looks forward to the La Jolla branch being the culmination of her public library career.

Editor’s note: Emily Lupton is a junior at High Tech High International in Point Loma. She has spent the fall semester as an intern at the La Jolla Light.