‘Bringing the community together’ a key goal for new Solana Beach Library manager

Although Patricia Tirona officially became branch manager of Solana Beach Library in June, she is a familiar face at the local library. Tirona first joined the local branch when it opened its current location in 2001.

“I feel like I’ve been apprenticing for this all these years,” Tirona said. “When you work in a field for so long, you can see how you’d like to see things done and you can see what works. And with the county, you get a lot of classes, coaching, training and teambuilding. So even though this is my first time as branch manager, I’ve been a supervisor a long time.”

Born on the East Coast, Tirona grew up in Solana Beach. She attended Earl Warren Middle School and San Dieguito High School Academy. Following high school, she went to Palomar College before transferring to San Diego State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Tirona worked as a computer programmer for almost a decade until she decided to be a stay-at-home mother of three. Once her children were grown, she took a job as a library clerk at Carlsbad City Library, where her son also worked at the time.

It wasn’t her first time working at a library.

Tirona had worked at the Palomar College Library when she attended the campus. Both her mother and sister previously worked at the library as well.

In 2001, the Solana Beach Library opened its current location on Stevens Avenue. When Tirona learned a new library would be opening in her hometown at her former school, she applied for a job before the branch opened its doors.

She was hired as a library technician at the new branch.

“It was a goal of mine,” she said. “It was a dream come true.”

While at the branch, Tirona began working on her master’s of library and information science from San Jose State, which she completed while working at the Vista branch, where she served for two years. Shortly after, she was promoted to youth librarian at the Solana Beach Library in 2006, a position she held for eight years.

“It was a wonderful circle of life,” she said.

Tirona became the interim branch manager shortly after the start of 2014, when former Branch Manager Sheila Crosby transferred to Encinitas.

“I love to serve,” Tirona said. “My job offers me the chance to touch people’s lives, and that is incredibly rewarding. Creating a sense of community among our customers, including the students, is especially satisfying.”

The Solana Beach Library is shared with Earl Warren Middle School — and it’s the kids that make the branch so special, Tirona said.

Eight years ago, Tirona launched Reading Challenge, with the support of the school and funds from the Friends of the Solana Beach Library, Del Mar-Solana Beach Optimist Club and Parent Teacher Student Association. The program encourages students to recreationally read.

Those who read more than 1,000 pages in one semester get to attend a party at the library in lieu of English class for one day. Those who read more than 10,000 pages also receive a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card. The program also recognizes the top reader.

So many students participated last year, Tirona said the library did not have enough space to fit the students.

“We get a good turn out,” she said. “I’m real proud of that.”

As the new branch manager, Tirona said she is looking forward to continuing the branch’s relationship with its customers and growing the library programs, which include programs for students such as Reading Challenge, as well as a variety of programs for the community, from an adult bridge club to a knitting class.

“It’s not just about books, it’s about bringing the community together,” she said.

Her promotion also coincides with the complete reconstruction of Earl Warren Middle School, a $41 million project that kicked off over the summer.

The district launched the project in August with the demolition of Warren Hall, the school’s multipurpose room, as well as the blacktop behind the campus and the cafeteria, known as “Lola’s Place.”

Representatives from San Diego County, San Dieguito Union High School District, the city of Solana Beach and Friends of the Solana Beach Library recently met to discuss plans for the shared-use library on the campus. Although design plans are being finalized, plans reportedly include new study rooms, a community room and an expanded bookstore for the Friends of the Library.

“When we have the new configuration, hopefully, it will be a situation where everybody will be satisfied,” she said. “My goal is to see it come to fruition where we can have all of these services for the community and also serve the people who would like a quiet place to go, so that all members of the community are happy.”

For more information about the Solana Beach Library, visit http://sdcl.org/locations_SB.html.

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