After leading the Carson City Library for six years, Sara Jones announced Wednesday she is leaving in July to take a job as director of the Marin County Free Library in California.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Jones, Nevada’s co-Librarian of the Year for 2012. “This has been a great community to work in, but it’s a fabulous opportunity in a great library system. It steps it up for me, and I’m excited about that.”
Jones, originally from Idaho, has worked in Nevada libraries for 25 years and will officially retire in July.
“But I’m only 50, so it’s not like I’m ready to quit yet,” she said. “I’d love to see a different place.”
Jones started her library career in 1988 as a youth services librarian in Elko, then served more than six years as the library’s director. She went on to serve as director of the Nevada State Library before taking over as director of the Carson City Library in 2007.
Jones also has been an adjunct professor of library science at the University of North Texas and San Jose State University. She has helped raise more than $15 million as a grant writer and served on the boards of several library associations.
“Public libraries are more important than ever in our lives,” Jones said. “They give a safe and trusted place for learning, provide recreation and, perhaps most importantly, connect people and ideas.”
While voters turned down a proposal in November for a quarter-cent sales-tax increase to build a new library known as the Knowledge + Discovery Center, Jones said there are no ill feelings.
“There’s nothing about what didn’t happen that’s causing me to move on,” she said. “I’m very proud of what I’ve done here.”
When Jones took over, the system had 10 public-access computers and was considered one of the weakest in the state when measuring technological tools, Jones said.
She emphasized computer access for the public, created a media lab, opened a business branch library, opened a branch at a Boys & Girls Clubs and expanded the e-book collection. Today, Carson City library customers have access to 118 computers.
Tammy Westergard, deputy director of the Carson City Library, said the respect Jones earned from library staffers was key to the transformation.
“Sara understands why public libraries matter,” Westergard said. “She is very authentic, a consummate professional and extraordinary on so many levels.”
Jones has been married 29 years to a certified public accountant and has a 19-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter.