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San Clemente Journal

San Clemente’s Library is a place for all...

Oct 03, 2018 09:51AM ● By Shelle Sandberg
Shawna Bird is the Adult Services Librarian at the San Clemente Branch of the Orange County, CA, Public Libraries. She’s proud to be the first in her family to attend college and obtain a graduate degree. She began studying to be a psychologist, an English teacher, teen librarian, and soon realized she really enjoyed working with adults.


Since joining the library’s team last fall, Bird’s favorite part of her job is looking at the big picture, seeing where there may be gaps or things that aren’t being addressed, and determining what’s being left out of current programming. She loves that the library is the place that shows everybody equal respect and appreciation. It’s the safe place that values all people.

The most important project Shawna is involved with right now is learning about the community and increasing her awareness of what’s needed here. She says people here are approachable, and she presently has two book clubs and a poetry group holding meetings at the library and attended by incredible ladies and gentlemen, who are willing to talk and share about the community.

Bird typically avoids giving her opinion, saying it’s dangerous. When people ask what they should read, she answers with, “You should read what you like,” and then quotes the source.

When asked if she could have one superpower regarding her job, her answer was instantaneous. “I’m a librarian; I HAVE a superpower. I’m a LIBRARIAN!”
She feels about the only thing missing from the San Clemente Library is more people, and that comes down to building attendance, making people aware of the wonderful resources available at the library.

The Old Made New
This classically beautiful library underwent a 13-month remodel beginning in June of 2014, and was completed July 2015. It went from 7,000 to 10,000 sq. ft. and appears much larger than that. The breathtaking stained glass windows that have always been a part of the building are now a focal point. The technology and electronics have been updated as well, and an outreach committee has been established for the OC Public Libraries system, getting members out to let everyone know what’s going on.
The next level of thinking for the staff is to see where and how all their resources fit together. Example: If someone checks out a resume book, an assistant could inform them that there is a jobs class available, allowing our residents to know there is more to offer than just what’s being asked for. There are hidden resources, and they are tying them all together!


Bird says a perfect day at the library is, “…not just about books anymore. It’s about helping the community reach its goals and potential. When somebody comes in, finds a program, finds their tribe or their fit and we’ve somehow made that connection with them, that’s a perfect day.”

She dreads not being able to give somebody the help they need. She can’t give legal or tax advice. She admits there is only so much you can do … only so much you can give.
The biggest obstacle for the best future of the library is to change its perception. From dusty old books on shelves and scowling shhhh-ing librarians wearing tight hair buns and bifocals on their noses, to the laughing, supportive, customer service model of today, the San Clemente staff has made that leap. As a matter of fact, a lot of folks don’t realize there are librarians who skateboard, play Pokémon Go, Twerk, and even Belly Dance. It’s not just technology that’s changed!

They want our residents to know what they’re already paying for: magazines, E-books, programs, and information to download.
Citizens may not be aware of subscriptions that the county has to help get jobs.
•   Database - Reference USA, market  research/research job competition
• - technology training
•  Mango Language - learn a language on computer or phone … and all for free!
The library is supported by the county of Orange, and in addition is extremely grateful to the Friends of the Library organization. This is a group that contributes approximately $50,000 annually through the library bookstore, permitting many extra programs to be added. Donations of books or financial contributions can be made directly to Friends of the Library.

And There’s Still More … Needlepoint?
In addition to these resources and opportunities, our library holds various classes. One of these weekly classes is the Needlework Circle. Members meet every Tuesday afternoon from 12:30-2:30. Shawna admits this class was up and going before she arrived last year. She feels its success is due to the fact that it's a good fit for this town. This creative class is a time to get together to make homemade, heartfelt gifts. It started with knitting and crocheting, and has expanded to other needlework. It is open and welcoming to new members.

With the holidays approaching, some members are working on personal items to leave a family legacy. Others use crafting to relieve stress. This group has also made and donated preemie and chemo caps through the Knots of Love organization.

Needlework Circle feels support from the yarn and craft stores in town. With a donation from the Friends of the Library group, the Circle was able to purchase a gift certificate to a local craft store, raffling it on World Wide Knit in Public Day. Their relationship with other craft stores is mutually beneficial because new people are introduced to the crafts, and local stores let their customers know about the classes and books to help them get started. The group also has people outside our community who participate remotely, and have donated yarn, caps, and/or blankets after hearing about the Needlework Circle through friends or 

Men are welcome in the Needlework Circle, and in every program at the library! The warmth and caring at the San Clemente Library are definitely a reflection of the San Clemente spirit.

242 Avenida Del Mar San Clemente  92672 .Contact (949) 492-3493