Arlington Public Library Director Cary Siegfried is leaving her post of nearly 24 years for a broader position with the city of Salinas, Calif., where she will lead the library system as well as parks, recreation centers and other community services.
Siegfried, who is scheduled to start her new job March 7, is leaving a city of about 370,000 residents for one with about 155,000.
She said her reason for leaving isn’t money — she’ll make $145,248 a year in Salinas, an increase of just over $3,500. She wants to be nearer her daughter, who lives in San Francisco, about 110 miles away.
“She moved back there about a year and a half ago, and I miss her,” Siegfried said. A chance to work on her tan is also a draw. “My favorite beach in the world is Carmel, which is about 30 miles from there.”
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Before coming to Arlington, Siegfried, fresh out college with a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees, worked in academic libraries at the University of Texas at Dallas and Southern Methodist University for almost four years.
Ten years ago we didn’t have much in the way of adult programming. It’s come a long way in terms of creating a center for literacy services in Arlington.
Cary Siegfried, outgoing Arlington Public Library director
She started her Arlington Public Library career in 1992 as support services administrator, reporting to the director. She was promoted to director in 2004.
“She has been very quietly one of our most innovative managers as far as getting things done with restrained resources,” said City Manager Trey Yelverton. “She’s been creative in how we’ve staffed our libraries and how we’ve utilized volunteers in the system.”
She has broadened the Arlington library’s network with the libraries of nearby cities, he said. “So all people in the region can benefit from the collections that all the libraries have.”
Yelverton said he will first look among the current staff for candidates to replace Siegfried. He credits her in part for making that in-house option viable, saying, “She’s done a really good job of developing talent in the library system.”
Salinas City Manager Ray Corpuz said he looks forward to putting Siegfried to work in his community.
“Cary Siegfried’s record speaks for itself, and I’m delighted she has agreed to join us,” Corpuz said in a statement. “We were especially impressed by her success in building literacy, as well as her ability to accomplish big things while working with people from across her community.”
He cited several accomplishments from her résumé, including creation of the Arlington Reads literacy program, which provides GED, ESL and Adult Basic Education instruction.
“That’s one of the accomplishments I’m proudest of,” Siegfried said. “Ten years ago we didn’t have much in the way of adult programming. It’s come a long way in terms of creating a center for literacy services in Arlington.”
She ran the library system — a downtown library and six branches — on a $7 million budget that has included the planning of the new $29 million downtown library set for construction to start in the spring across from the site of the recently razed Central Library building.
We were especially impressed by her success in building literacy, as well as her ability to accomplish big things while working with people from across her community.
Ray Corpuz, Salinas, Calif., city manager
“The biggest thing I was really focused on as director is the Central Library,” she said. “That’s something that has been in the works long before I was director.”
It wasn’t easy. At a June work session, several City Council members said they didn’t like the proposed exterior design, describing it as “a little sterile,” “ ’70s architecture” and “faddish.”
Siegfried cringed but took copious notes and returned in September with a design that won over the council.
“That’s part of the design process,” she said, insisting that she welcomed the input. “Definitely it took us down a different road than we were planning originally, but it made it all the better. I think the version we came up with is a wonderful design.”
She said she’s not leaving any unfinished business behind, except the construction of the library, which is not her department.
“It was really a difficult decision,” she said. “But I’m not really a pomp-and-circumstance-type person. I don’t need the balloons and the grand opening and speeches to feel like I have accomplished something.
“I would rather have been here to see it open. But I will certainly come back and see it open.”