New Rancho Santa Fe Library Branch Manager welcomes community input


unnamed-1By Karen Billing

Rancho Santa Fe Library’s new Branch Manager Haley Kwon has been charmed by the village’s “sweet, down-home” character, the simple pleasure of visiting the local library and people’s enjoyment of a slower speed of time.

“It’s a small town and the library is a place for people to connect,” Kwon said. “People have a different sense of time here, they come in to see you rather than call you on the phone or send an email. I enjoy both, the super speedy as well as the slower pace, but it’s cool to have that communication.”

Kwon encourages that communication and input as she looks to make sure all the library patrons’ needs are met.

In July, Kwon replaced Caryl Andrews, who was transferred to Poway. Kwon comes to Rancho Santa Fe from the La Mesa Library, where she was a library technician. This is her first time taking the lead over a branch and said she likes the ability to articulate and formulate decisions that will have an impact.

“It’s a smaller branch so I can be much more thoughtful and much more participatory, sharing ideas with the staff and the community about what they’d like to see more of in the collection and in the programs,” Kwon said.

Kwon originally started out in education, working with the San Diego Unified School District, but when an opportunity arose to become a library technician she found she preferred it to being in the classroom.

Born in South Korea, Kwon wasn’t fluent in English until she was in the third grade. Her love of words and reading started young — her favorite reads now are sociology books and nonfiction works.

In her short time in Rancho Santa Fe, Kwon has already overseen some big changes at the library.

Over the summer the library completed several Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements, including adding spaces to the parking lot and a new restroom accessed in the library’s Garden Room.

Kwon wanted to give the Garden Room an update and last week they rearranged some of the book shelves and moved the magazine displays to open the room up more for activities such as author talks. She said some library staff said they had wanted to make those moves for 25 years — Kwon said it all goes back to having those discussions with staff and the community about what they want and finding ways to make it happen.

Kwon said the library’s biggest needs are in adult programming. She aims to create more variety, offering educational or health activities, whatever the members are looking for.

“It’s just really about providing enrichment and stimulation in the community,” Kwon said. “In terms of what is possible and what I’m willing to offer the community, it’s really going to be different.”

One of the first places residents will see change will be in the library’s Rancho Days offering. The RSF Library Guild will host its traditional Petals and Prose at the RSF Garden Club on Tuesday, Oct. 7, but instead of the library’s usual movie screening afterward, they will host an all-American pie-eating contest, around 7:15 p.m.

Guild members had told Kwon they remembered past Rancho Days with pie-eating contest fun and she wanted to refresh that tradition to make new memories for the next generation.

She loves the “homey” idea of bringing neighbors of all ages together around an old tradition.

“I like the idea of bringing together what is disparate,” Kwon said.

The Oct. 7 event will also feature music from the chorales of Santa Fe Christian School and desserts. That day will be full of events at the library, a “library block party,” Kwon said. The RSF Library Guild will be hosting its author discussion and luncheon with T. Jefferson Parker, author of “Full Measure,” at 11:30 a.m. and the library will have extended open house hours until 8 p.m.

For tickets to the author talk, visit Don’t forget the Book Cellar’s semi-annual half price sale will be held Friday, Oct. 3 through Saturday, Oct. 4. All items are 50 percent off from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.