Billings Named Director of Library; 2 Spots Left to Fill

Cathy Billings, who was named acting library director back in July, has been given the job on a permanent basis. Photo by Henk Friezer

It’s in the books — Cathy Billings has been officially appointed director of the South Pasadena Public Library, shedding the “acting” title she’s held since July.

City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe made the announcement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Billings, whose official title will be director of library, arts and culture, succeeds the long-serving Steve Fjeldsted, who announced his retirement in June. The salary range for Billings’ position is between $95,000 and $127,000 per year.

The city does not release specific employee salaries for any one time, only salary ranges. But spokesman John Pope said that since Billings has worked for the library for some 2 ½ years, her initial salary in her new role is “probably” somewhere north of the $95,000 mark.

Now that her promotion is formalized, Billings told the Review she has a “long list” of priorities — mostly but not exclusively in tech-implementation areas.

But first, she said, the library still needs to fill two other librarians’ spots in order to bring full-time staffing back up to the 10 positions of a few years ago.

“I’m happy, and I think it’s a good thing for the library and staff to have the org charts in final form – we’ve been in flux the three or four years,’’ Billings said. “So we’re excited to close that door and move forward.”

There had been three vacancies among the 10 full-time staff positions, including the director’s position. Now it’s down to two.

Billings’ appointment leaves only a children’s librarian and an adult-services librarian with an emphasis on digital services as positions yet to be filled. Billings said interviews for those spots were being conducted this week, and that she expected to fill them sometime in late December or early January. 

“That will allow us to have a full team for the first time in a while,’’ Billings said.

Meanwhile, high on the short-term agenda, she said, is getting a library app up and running as well as “looking to improve computer services — and we’re also planning to look at our loan and checkout periods, maybe letting people keep things a little longer.”

She said many library customers, particularly older ones, have antiquated views of libraries as dusty, books-only repositories. But modern libraries are much more than that, she said — and she’s looking to spread the word.

“A lot of people don’t even think we have DVDs,’’ she said. “Of course, we have streaming services, audio books, databases for language learning and ancestry research, tutoring resources to help students do their homework.’’

The adult-services librarian/digital services will play a key role in expanding use of those resources, Billings said.

Billings holds a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Washington. In a 30-plus-year career, she’s also worked as senior library, arts and culture supervisor for Glendale’s Brand Library & Art Center, and done stints at the Center for Fiction in New York and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. In addition, she worked at a nuclear research facility in Switzerland.

“I’m really excited,’’ Billings said. “This is a great library, I feel I know the community really well, I really know the staff, and I’m looking forward to taking things to the next step.”