Director Biography & Philosophy Statement
José A. Aponte
Libraries transform communities and create public value: they are the catalyst that brings disparate groups together to build social capital. What is social capital? Social capital is the mortar that weds the pieces of our community mosaic into a vital prosperous whole. More specifically, using a philosophy that cultivates talent, tolerance and technology we have built the foundation for the library of the future.
Libraries inspire, nurture, inform and educate our citizens in a public sanctuary that promotes stronger economies capable of competing in a global marketplace, enabling working people and managers to grow through self-directed learning. Everyday across this country and the world, libraries demonstrate with our partners that by using accessible state-of-the-art technology and traditional information and cultural resources we are an essential public service that remains a vital foundation and cornerstone for a safer, healthier, productive and inclusive society.
Currently, I am the Director of the San Diego County Library and responsible for a system that includes 33 libraries, two bookmobiles and a literacy program. Our library serves a population that is both geographically and culturally diverse, in the second most populous county in the state.
Over the last three decades, I have worked in the Tucson Pima Library, Pikes Peak Library District, West Palm Beach Public Library and libraries in Santa Barbara, Oceanside and Orange County in California. I have driven bookmobiles, served rural and urban branch libraries, and co-authored a materials selection and collection development policy, as well as served as a library director in four cities in the states of Florida, Colorado and California. Finally, I served three years as deputy city manager in Oceanside, California.
My experience as a library director and deputy city manager includes working with federal, state, municipal, and county government. In addition to professional work as a library and city administrator, I have worked with the California State Office of AIDS, California Arts Council, and the Stanford-California State Library Institute for 21st Century Librarianship as consultant, panelist and presenter. Since 2004 I have served as a Commissioner on the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science.
For the last eight years I have served on the Advisory Board of the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries, working to improve our nation's school libraries in the communities of greatest need. Concurrent with our Foundation's national schools focus for the last six years, we have been active in the Gulf Coast post Katrina recovery efforts. To that end, I have traveled to the Gulf Coast four times since the Katrina and Rita catastrophes to consult with local schools, rebuild library collections, as well as participate in the administration of over $5 million dollars of Laura Bush Foundation Gulf Coast grants. Central to the success of my work and that of our team has been the ability to balance energy, passion, and commitment with the capacity for timely, pragmatic analysis, personal reflection and day to day on the ground objectivity and integrity.
Most recently, at the invitation of the State Department I presented lectures and workshops at both public library and academic venues in Central and South America on the value of the library institution, cultivating the voices of pluralism, self-directed learning, and open access to information.
Changing gears, I continue to balance my professional and personal life competing in marathons. I am a seasoned competitive amateur athlete with experience in over 20 marathons and have qualified three times for the United States Triathlon Federation's National Duathlon team. As a member of the U.S. National Master Team in 2001 and 2002, I placed fourth and first at the World Duathlon Championships in the Netherlands and Austria.
Bachelor of Arts - Bard College, Annandale-On-Hudson, New York
Master of Library Science - University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ