Diane Jennings retiring as library director

Jennings, who began library career in 1976, to retire in December

Diane Jennings -- who since 1986 has worked on Palo Alto library system challenges, served twice as interim director and for the past four years as director -- will retire in December, she announced Thursday (Sept. 23).

"I am very pleased that, after many years of passionate debate about library service in Palo Alto, we are now in the middle of a marvelous transition for all our libraries," she said of her impending departure as work is about to commence on rebuilding the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center.

She and her husband, John, will leave for Santa Fe in early November even though her official retirement date is in December.

Jennings, who began her library career in 1976 in a community-college library, served her first stint as interim director in Palo Alto following the 2002 retirement of longtime Library Director Mary Jo Levy. Her second stint in that role followed the 2004 departure of Paula Simpson, after a tumultuous term that pitted her support for a single large library against residents favoring the existing branch-library system. The branch-versus-single-library debate had stalled progress on refurbishing city libraries for nearly 15 years.

But Jennings and community campaign leaders were successful in moving past the deadlock and winning voter approval for a $78 million construction bond measure in November 2008, now beginning to be implemented with the reconstruction of the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center.

Jennings sees her major achievements as, among others, developing the library's first online catalog in 1986; working with community members to become one of the first public libraries in the region to provide public WiFi access; managing a multi-year upgrade of library technology; working with a coalition of library-support groups on funding, refurbishing and equipping the historic Children's Library; and spearheading library-improvement projects.

Jay Thorwaldson

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Like this comment
Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2010 at 11:10 am

Well done, Diane, and a happy retirement to you!

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon Olson
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 24, 2010 at 11:18 am

Even in far-flung Connecticut we hear the news of the impending retirement of Super-Director Diane Jennings. The Palo Alto City Library was lucky to have you at the helm. Happy retirement!
Sharon and Bill

Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Yet another retirement before the City screws it's retirees out of the retirement health care they are contractually obligated to provide, and a benefit for which long time employees like Diane have paid for many times over.

In most cases (i.e. Russ Carlsen, Gary Baum) there "decision" to retire is a good thing for the City as it will allow competent people to replace them.

In Diane Jennings case this isn't true. She has been a huge asset to the City for the period of her directorship, and for many, many years prior to that.

She will be sorely missed.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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