San Luis Obispo County Library Director Brian Reynolds did not originally plan on working in libraries.
“I wanted to be a clinical psychologist,” said the 63-year-old, who will retire in October after two decades of managing San Luis Obispo County libraries. “I got into libraries as a fluke (in college). The rest was history.”
After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in psychology in 1972, Reynolds took a job at the Visalia City Library, where his supervisor suggested Reynolds look into library management.
Nearly 20 years later in 1993, Reynolds brought his experience to San Luis Obispo as the new county library director.
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Local libraries have grown about 50 percent while he’s been with the county, Reynolds said. When he was first hired, county libraries occupied roughly 60,000 square feet of space; today, they’re approaching 90,000 square feet.
That’s due to expansion projects for the existing libraries in Atascadero, Cambria and Morro Bay, and construction of new libraries in Nipomo, Santa Margarita, Creston and Cayucos, all of which Reynolds oversaw.
Besides the growth, Reynolds also witnessed changes in the way people used libraries, especially with the rise of the Internet.
“People think mistakenly that because the Internet is out there, and so big, that people don’t use libraries anymore,” Reynolds said. “That couldn’t be more wrong.”
According to Reynolds, county libraries now serve more people than they ever have before; partly because the libraries are more connected to outside counties through the Internet, but also because younger people are using them more than in the past.
On an average day, Reynolds said, roughly 16,000 people will physically visit a San Luis Obispo County Library, and roughly 13,000 will visit a county library website.
Overseeing this growth, and helping his staff adapt to it, has been one of his best achievements, Reynolds said.
“If I could change anything, I wouldn’t change anything,” Reynolds said. “I’m proud of my staff and everything we’ve done.”
Following his retirement Oct. 12, Reynolds will remain in the county with his wife, Dianne, who retired last year. He said he hopes to remain involved in the community through volunteering, and will pursue some of his hobbies such as the piano and low-power FM radio.
A new library director has not yet been chosen.