Del Mar Library welcomes new branch manager

By Kristina Houck

The daughter of a librarian, Polly Cipparrone didn’t plan on following in her mother’s footsteps.

“I didn’t want to go into the family business,” said Cipparrone, whose mother worked as a librarian for nearly three decades at Patrick Henry High School. “But it got to a point in my life where I was trying to decide what I wanted to do, so I went to a career counselor and took a test.”

The test suggested she become a judge, foreign language teacher or librarian. Cipparrone didn’t want to be a judge and she wasn’t fluent in a second language.

“When I saw that it was like, ‘I guess that’s what I’m going to do,” she recalled. “Then I started to understand more.”

From providing book recommendations, to training new staff members, Cipparrone established a well-rounded library career. Having worked for the San Diego County Library for 15 years, she was recently appointed branch manager of Del Mar Library.

“I knew there was an opportunity at Del Mar and I live in Del Mar Heights,” Cipparrone said. “It was a great opportunity.”

A San Diego native, Cipparrone grew up in Rancho San Diego. After graduating from Monte Vista High School in Spring Valley, she moved out of state to study political science at the University of Puget Sound in Washington.

Cipparrone worked in banking for seven years before she took a new career path.

“I wanted to do something that really helped people,” she said.

That’s when Cipparrone decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and went on to earn a master’s degree in library science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cipparrone began her career as a librarian at Vista Library. She worked alongside fellow librarian Gretchen Schmidt, who went on to serve as branch manager of the Del Mar Library for more than 15 years. Schmidt retired Jan. 16.

“I actually worked with Gretchen when I first started with the county, so it’s a full circle,” Cipparrone said. “She was wonderful and was a great librarian. I know I have big shoes to fill.”

Prior to beginning her new position on Jan. 17, Cipparrone served as San Diego County Library’s information technology services manager. She has also worked as the community relations manager and library training manager.

“I’m applying all the things I’ve been training and learned through community relations and through IT,” she said. “I’m sort of going back to applying all that in a practical sense because it’s been a long time since I worked in a branch.”

From attending council meetings to walking through the neighborhoods, Cipparrone is touring Del Mar to learn more about the community she serves and the needs of its citizens. She is looking forward to continuing the branch’s relationship with its customers and growing the library programs.

“Gretchen was so integrated within the community. I want to sustain that because it’s so important,” Cipparrone said. “I want to make sure that we continue to reflect the needs of the community, and that we draw people together and help in whatever way we can.”

For more information about the Del Mar Library, visit