Del Mar librarian receives honors following her retirement

Del Mar librarian receives honors following her retirement
Mayor Lee Haydu, left, reads from a proclamation honoring recently retired head librarian Gretchen Schmidt for nearly 20 years of service to the San Diego County Library system, more than 15 of them at the Del Mar branch. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

DEL MAR — Gretchen Schmidt was honored with a proclamation from City Council at the Jan. 21 meeting for more than 15 years as a librarian with the Del Mar branch of the San Diego County Library.

Schmidt started with the county library system in 1996. Two years later she was assigned to Del Mar as head librarian, a position now known as branch manager.

During her tenure she led outreach programming with the Winston School, Del Mar

Foundation children’s program, Del Mar Montessori School and Del Mar Community Connections.

She also mentored other librarians who now run their own branches.

Schmidt was there in 2008 when the aging patio was enclosed and remodeled into an indoor community meeting room, a project that led to the removal of a Torrey pine and a new roof.

She used matching funds to personalize the news and magazine sections and continued fostering new programming for a broad community of library users.

“When I started there was a very active Friends of the Del Mar Library group,” she said. “They started a number of children’s programs and were ahead of their time for the county in programming.”

Schmidt said some of her fondest memories are of packed events at the Powerhouse Community Center, including Lisa See, a Los Angeles fiction author, and Lynne Cox, a long-distance open-water swimmer and writer.

“That was really a special event, especially for people interested in ocean swimming,” she said.

In addition to the surviving the 2008 construction project, Schmidt was on hand during recent upgrades that include more comfortable seating, lower shelves and natural light.

“It’s more suitable for people who want to read or work on their laptop,” she said. “We also remodeled the teen room and children’s and young adult rooms. For the facility, I’m proud of that.”

In terms of programs, Schmidt said she is proud of a recent addition called Sunday Salon. County residents are invited to speak at 2 p.m. on a Sunday about anything that is educational, informative or entertaining that meets the mission statement of the library.

The proclamation urges Schmidt to “enjoy her life in new, wondrous ways” and to “sleep in if you can.”

“I have been,” said Schmidt, who officially retired Jan. 16.

“We really thank you,” Mayor Lee Haydu said. “You’re going to be missed greatly.”

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Schmidt said. “It’s been a pleasure to be able to work at Del Mar, so thank you very much for the opportunity.”

Schmidt, an Encinitas resident, said she will spend her time babysitting for her first grandchild, born Jan. 4, volunteering and attending programs at the library.

Polly Cipparrone is the new branch manager.

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