Jeff Clemetson | Editor
Rancho San Diego native Chelsie Harris says she was “born and raised out here” in East County, making her new gig as managing librarian for the La Mesa Library a sort of homecoming.
Harris has been with the San Diego County Library for 12 years, starting as a student worker while she attended college.
“I fell in love with the community-building aspect of libraries and decided to see it on through and have been here ever since,” she said. “I get to see people from all walks of life and different experiences get to come together in one place and interact and have conversations and attend programs, but it’s really about the community-building. That’s what I’m really passionate about.”
Harris worked at the El Cajon and Encinitas branches, the county library headquarters in the community relations department, and for the last three years as manager at the Ramona Library before taking over La Mesa Library from outgoing managing librarian Heather Pisani-Kristl.
So far, Harris said, she is enjoying her new job.
“The community is really great and the staff here is amazing so I’m really excited,” she said.
As far as changes to library programs, Harris said she is getting a feel for what the community wants and encourages people to come in with suggestions or share what programs they enjoy at other libraries.
“I want to encourage people to come in and tell us what they are looking for in their library. We really want to expand services,” she said, adding there will be a few new programs that will be starting up soon. “I know that next year we’re going to launch a new Oasis series, Oasis San Diego in Grossmont Center. We’re going to be bringing some of those classes here.”
Harris is already a supporter of expanding the La Mesa Library. She said a library combined with a performing arts center, as some have suggested for La Mesa, could meet some of the library’s needs, but that she would prefer adding quiet study rooms, which are the most requested amenity the La Mesa Library does not offer.
“We very much want to be able to add services for the community and that would require either a community room or study rooms or just more space for everybody,” she said. “We’re the fifth busiest library out of the 33 in our library system but we’re like 16th for size. So we would really like to balance that a little bit and give the community the space that it needs.”
Harris said she envisions the library as the “third place” for members of the community.
“You have home, you have work. What’s that third place that you get to go to where you have different social engagement or just a sort of home away from home that isn’t your job? That’s really what we want the library to be.”
—Reach Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.