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California: Third Time’s the Charm!

We’re headed back to California! I have a job as library director at Holy Names University in Oakland, starting October 30.

Ok, to put this news in context…

A few months back Sandy and I had a series of family discussions, and we realized that we were in agreement on a change of strategy to move to a place where Sandy could find employment and to be closer to the large urban areas we’ve always preferred.  Northern California has always been first on that list for me, and Sandy grew to love it too.

Also, I have greatly enjoyed my work  at Equinox, and consider myself a part of the open source community forever, but I really wanted to return to the kind of job that has most suited me — leading a small, nimble library organization into the future. I want to settle in and do amazing things.  Just what remains to be seen (or, more literally, interpreted from needs assessments and strategic planning), but I see this new position as an opportunity to pull  together everything I have ever learned about anything and apply it at one of the most crucial moments in history for libraries.

We then backburnered all these ideas while I plunged into a particularly demanding (and fun) period in my work at Equinox, and it was not until late August that I roused myself enough to begin checking library job postings (though a couple of times people floated opportunities past my radar screen, and I felt like Goldilocks: no, not that chair… no, not THAT chair, either…).

I remember a friend saying that we “couldn’t” leave Tallahassee because we “couldn’t”  sell our house. My thoughts at that moment (not expressed out loud) were that the only things we really had to do in life were pay taxes and (eventually) die.  We have a lovely house in a bucolic park district, and if we can’t sell it, some lucky tenants are going to really enjoy it.

Anyway, a number of things came together very suddenly.  And I deeply appreciate our good fortune in being able to return to California. In fact, I am humbled by it.

These have not been wasted years for us. They’ve been hard years, but those are usually the learning years.  I have acquired skills and experience these past three years that I wouldn’t have learned any other way, and met people I consider friends for life.

I’m going to miss Meyers Park, and the beer tastings at New Leaf Market, and the cardinals at the birdfeeder, and the Shell Oyster Bar, and my dear, dear writing friends; but I will tuck all of this in my shoebox of memories and carry it with me as we head west, retracing our steps back home.

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  1. sylvie wrote:

    congratulations. I am looking forward to reading all about your new adventures.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 8:00 am | Permalink
  2. Grace wrote:

    All of us here at Equinox will certainly miss you; it has been a pleasure. I wish you and Sandy all the happiness in your new home and new jobs.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 8:14 am | Permalink
  3. Cal Gough wrote:

    Wow! Such great, exciting news, but so startling somehow! I’m glad you’ve spent some time in the Southeast, and hope that your excellent blog survives the Big Move!

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 8:15 am | Permalink
  4. Blake wrote:

    congratulations and best of luck!

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 8:20 am | Permalink
  5. GraceAnne Ladyhawk wrote:

    Yay Karen! Huzzah, Sandy! Joy and joy and joy.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 9:13 am | Permalink
  6. Nann wrote:

    Karen, what great good news!

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 9:16 am | Permalink
  7. Congratulations, Karen! Best of luck on the move & the new job! Safe travels to you and Sandy!

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 9:20 am | Permalink
  8. kate wrote:

    Wonderful news! Happy trails, happy homecoming and happy directing!

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 9:42 am | Permalink
  9. marieDee wrote:

    Congratulations! I’m presently struggling with a decision about retirement: so burned out but fearful of being poorer than I already am….Good news from someone else gives me hope
    and vicarious joy.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink
  10. amanda wrote:

    congrats, Karen! can’t wait to hear all about the new gig and your journey to get there :)

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 10:05 am | Permalink
  11. Louise wrote:

    I’m glad that you are happy about coming back to California. Maybe your feisty spirit will give us a lift. We can sure use it. Hope I see you around! Louise at UCLA

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 10:37 am | Permalink
  12. Miriam B. wrote:

    OMG. Glorious news. Back home. I’m so happy for you guys.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 11:08 am | Permalink
  13. Jeff Scott wrote:

    A big congratulations Karen! That’s really great news!

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 11:54 am | Permalink
  14. Roy Tennant wrote:

    Northern California is ready to welcome you and Sandy back with open arms. It will be great to have you local again!

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Permalink
  15. Congrats and glad you’re back in the Bay Area!!

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Permalink
  16. Dinah PHillips wrote:

    Oh frabjous day! Calloo! Callay!

    The left coast chortles in our joy!

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Permalink
  17. Gail Groves wrote:

    Wow! That is QUICK! Where are you planning to live? WOW! I’m so excited! – Gail

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
  18. Scot Colford wrote:

    Holy frijoles! Congrats! Does that mean I won’t see you at Code4Lib anymore?!

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 6:44 pm | Permalink
  19. pollyalida wrote:

    Congrats! A move back to the left coast. Lucky you & lucky left coast! Much happiness to you both.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 7:46 pm | Permalink
  20. Helene wrote:

    Congrats Karen. What great news

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 9:29 pm | Permalink
  21. Great! So glad that they liked you, too. You were so energized after spending a whole day talking to them. Good thing about the benefits, too.

    I hope Sandy has ever better luck finding something out here.

    Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 12:18 am | Permalink
  22. DrWeb wrote:

    The California Library Community welcomes you back, and sounds like a great job for you… many best wishes!

    Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 12:18 am | Permalink
  23. Walter, thank you! We have a family joke about “population density” (I tend to think it is the answer to everything–access to jobs, good coffee, writers’ communities, even pho) and the density works in Sandy’s favor in the Bay Area. There just ain’t enough of her flavor in the Southeast. (Lesson learned there. Trust us.)

    Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 9:07 am | Permalink
  24. Olivia Mendez-Alm wrote:

    HNU welcomes you with open arms! Congratulations on the job! I’m up in the admissions office, but I’ll make sure to pop in to say hello.

    Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink
  25. Janette Wright wrote:


    Congratulations from your colleagues at CAVAL in Australia! Sounds like an exciting move.


    Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 5:39 pm | Permalink
  26. Maia wrote:


    Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 8:30 pm | Permalink
  27. Sharon wrote:

    Congratulations Karen! Thanks for all of the work you’ve done for Evergreen; I’ve no doubt you’ll continue to be a strong advocate for the community. I’m so glad I had the chance to meet you. All the best to you and Sandy!

    Friday, October 2, 2009 at 1:10 am | Permalink
  28. Kenley Neufeld wrote:

    The true motherland, for me at least. Though I’m in SoCal, I get to the Bay from time to time.

    I’m not familiar with the University, but being a Library Director of a small organization is great fun. This is especially true if the org gives you plenty of autonomy and if you have a great staff. I’ve been lucky in both those areas and I hope you are too.

    Have a safe and joyful move west.

    Friday, October 2, 2009 at 11:55 pm | Permalink
  29. Amy Ranger wrote:

    OMG! Oh, I am so happy for you! This is wonderful news. My darling has not seen the Bay Area, so hopefully someday… meanwhile, good luck & safe travels. xoxo

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 11:14 am | Permalink
  30. Mark K. wrote:

    That is awesome news! I only know of Holy Names University indirectly (in particular the Sophia Center), but it has always looked to me like a place that’s doing some interesting stuff. Along with being in an excellent location, of course.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 2:22 pm | Permalink
  31. Scottie Hill wrote:

    You are going to love Oakland! I used to work up the road at Mills and lived in Oakland for a long time. If you need to know where to go for a god pub or a nice meal or a good selection of used books, or well, anything, let me know!

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  32. Cool on the Sophia Center! I knew OF Holy Names before I ever went there because it was the place where Matthew Fox had been.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 6:36 pm | Permalink
  33. Karen, congrats on the new job, and best wishes to you and Sandy as you journey back west and move on to new adventures!

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 9:20 am | Permalink
  34. ranti wrote:

    Congratulations, Karen. Best wishes for you new gig. :-)

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Permalink
  35. Anne wrote:

    Congratulations! I wish you a smooth move and all the best.

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 8:11 pm | Permalink
  36. Ricardo Antoni wrote:

    Congrats Karen! Better late than never.

    So glad you are coming back to the Bay area and to Oakland. I’m a librarian at Oakland Public and I still remember when you visited to give a talk a few years back. It was quite an eye opener.

    Feel free to contact me if you need to find your way around.

    Take care and have a safe trip,

    Ricardo Antoni

    Friday, October 16, 2009 at 1:35 pm | Permalink
  37. Norman Belk wrote:

    Cannot believe you’re going to California again! Bon Voyage! The East Coast is a little sadder for it. Norman Belk

    Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 2:14 pm | Permalink
  38. True in both cases, I think from what I see. It’s really great. I hope to run into you and I hear from a birdy that you are also participating in Project Info Lit!

    Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 12:08 am | Permalink

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