A change of leadership is in progress at the Los Altos libraries following Community Librarian Cheryl Houts' departure for the Campbell library system Oct. 3.
Children's Program Librarian Jill Lakstigala is filling in until Houts' successor is selected. Deputy County Librarian Melinda Cervantes said that recruitment is under way and she expects an appointment by the end of the month. The new head librarian, she said, might not start until the end of the year.
Houts joined the Los Altos Library system in 1998 and became head librarian in 2001. Reflecting on 10 years in the area, Houts didn't cite any radical changes in the library system but touted three upgrades to computer systems during her tenure.
"We are embracing new technology," Houts said, noting with pride that Los Altos libraries had racked up positive reviews on yelp.com, a site better known for user-reviews of local restaurants and businesses.
Librarians already answer questions through live chats on the library Web site, and Houts said the library could go even further using instant messaging as a reference tool.
"We're always looking at what is the next thing," she said.
Houts pointed to the refurbished teen section scheduled to premier this winter and expanded best-seller, graphic novel and romance novel collections as recent improvements the library has made to stay relevant to its users.
She pointed to community partnerships as a particular strength of the Los Altos libraries, citing the success of the World Affairs Council events, which grew so large they expanded into the nearby Los Altos Youth Center.
"Los Altos Voices for Peace is a fairly new partner I'm glad I said yes to – they have brought a great quality of new programming," Houts said. "The next community librarian will be very fortunate to come to work in Los Altos."
Houts lives in Campbell approximately a mile from the library where she will work, and she said she has hoped to work in her own city for some time. Her first goal there: "Make the public aware of a need for a new (library) building," she said.
Houts is prepared for a slightly quieter scene at the Campbell library, which operates 5 days a week and has a circulation of approximately 875,000 items annually, while Los Altos libraries are open 7 days a week and have a circulation of approximately 1.7 million items per year.