After more than 31 years with the Delaware County District Library, director Mary Jane Santos will retire on Sept. 30.
“This is the time to step aside and let some new blood come in,” Santos said. “The library will face a renewal of its existing levy in 2019 or 2020, and I need to get out of the way to allow somebody to come in and get the traction he or she needs to help get that levy passed.”
Santos’ association with the library began around 1977 as a member of the Friends of the Library, and then as a library volunteer in the early 1980s. In 1984, she was hired as a part-time circulation clerk for $3.15 an hour, and subsequently held other positions in the library.
“I am very fortunate that I was able to further my career and still stay in the city, because I love Delaware, and I didn’t want to move,” she said. “Whenever I felt it was time for an advancement in my career, an opportunity came up that allowed me to stay.”
Santos earned a master of library science degree in 1992, was named assistant director in 1993 and director in 2006.
“I had a lot of big rocks in front of me when I became director — passing a levy, updating technology and the existing facilities, building the Orange branch, increasing the size of the collection — and I feel as though I’ve moved all the big rocks that were in front of me.”
Over her career, Santos has seen the opening of all three branch libraries (Powell, Orange and Ostrander), the move of the main branch from Sandusky Street; overseen several renovations; and written a weekly column in The Gazette. She was named the Ohio Library Council’s Librarian of the Year in 2014.
“Mary Jane has been incredible to work with,” said library spokeswoman Nicole Fowles. “She intentionally hires people who are good at what they do, and letting them do that. The staff is bittersweet — we’re sad to see her go, but happy to know she’s going to get an opportunity to spend more time with family and her grandchildren.”
“I’ll be taking time to read those books I haven’t read yet,” Santos said. “I’m looking forward to that, but I have a feeling I won’t be sitting around too long. I’ll probably be looking for something to do after the first five or six months.”
In addition to her library career, Santos has served on Delaware City Council; was board chair of the Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce; and was president of the Delaware Lions and Delaware Rotary.
“I think it’s important for a library director to be involved in the community. It shows we’re invested in what happens. It’s important to volunteer. I truly enjoyed serving on City Council. Helping to make decisions for your city is the coolest thing ever.”
The public is invited to attend an open house party for Santos from 3 to 7 p.m. Sept. 30 at the main branch, 84 E. Winter St.
“I think I am leaving the library in pretty good shape,” Santos said. “I am certain whoever the board selects as my successor will be a top-notch person.”
The library board of trustees will interview four candidates for the director position on Aug. 1 in the community room of the main branch. They are:
• Michael Blackwell, manager of the Dublin branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library (9:15 a.m.).
• George Needham, a former vice president at OCLC in Dublin (11:15 a.m.).
• Chauncey Montgomery, director/fiscal officer of the Community Library in Sunbury (1:30 p.m.).
• Don Yarman, deputy director of the Delaware library (3:30 p.m.).
The public may attend the interviews.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.