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Santa Monica Picks Its Own to Head Library System
 

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By Jorge Casuso

May 19, 2022 -- After searching nationwide, Santa Monica has tapped a veteran staff member to head its Library system as it emerges from the coronavirus shutdown.

City Manager David White announced Thursday that he has chosen Erica Cuyugan -- a 15-year veteran of the department she has been heading on an interim basis -- as the next Director of Library Services.

Erica Cuyugan
Erica Cuyugan (Photo courtesy City of Santa Monica)

"Her historical knowledge of our system, her enthusiasm, and leadership in serving Santa Monica when our City needed her most makes her an obvious choice,” White said.

“With Erica taking the helm next week, she will lead the Department through a critical period of recovery, and I am confident in her abilities as a trusted leader.”

As Director of Library Services, Cuyugan will manage five libraries with a total workforce of 58 employees and an annual operating budget of $9.3 million.

She will assume the post on a permanent basis Monday with a salary of $197,124, according to City officials.

The daughter of immigrant parents who grew up frequenting public libraries, Cuyugan joined the City as a Teen Services Librarian in 2006 and rose through the ranks.

She was named Fairview Branch Manager and joined the leadership team in 2015. Two two years later, Cuyugan was named Assistant City Librarian, overseeing the library’s budget, staffing and capital projects.

She was promoted to Interim Director of Library Services last summer after City Librarian Patty Wong left the post to become library director for the City of Santa Clara.

Cuyugan represented the Library in the City’s Emergency Operations Center during the coronavirus emergency and played an integral role in the City's efforts to safely staff and reopen the library branches.

Before the COVID-19 emergency shut down City facilities in March 2020, Cuyugan helped lead a collaborative pilot in Santa Monica libraries "to address homeless issues, including executing pop-up clinics with service providers," City officials said.

“Overseeing Santa Monica’s library system is a great honor," Cuyugan said in a statement. "Our Library continues to be both a portal and a passage to greater connections, experiences, and knowledge for our community.”

“These past two years have tested our resilience and required us to be innovative while navigating through a pandemic and Citywide budget reductions," Cuyugan said.

"I look forward to rolling up my sleeves to work alongside staff and the community to set a clear direction and vision for library services.”

Cuyugan "enjoys reading the Harry Potter series with her two daughters, playing the ukulele and running the occasional marathon," City officials said.


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