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CLA Elections 2017 - Jessica Cadiente
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Jessica Cadiente, City of Santa Barbara


Jessica Cadiente is the Library Director for the City of Santa Barbara and is responsible for public libraries throughout Santa Barbara County, including two City libraries and seven County libraries. Ms. Cadiente is a recent graduate of the Public Library Association’s Leadership Academy and Dynamic Planning Institute. She is also a current Library Leadership & Management Association (LLAMA) mentor.

Prior to her appointment with the City of Santa Barbara, Ms. Cadiente was the Library Director for the City of Lompoc. She has worked in almost every role within a public library throughout her career and was fortunate to have worked in libraries throughout Arizona, including Peoria and Flagstaff.


Candidate Statement

Five years ago I moved to California and immediately joined CLA. I have dutifully gone to each annual conference and have encouraged my team to go as well. However, despite my desire to be more participatory early on I quickly became immersed in the day-to-day work of being a new library director. Additionally, the well-oiled and connected CLA machine was also slightly intimidating. Strangely, so many of us librarians find ourselves on the introvert side of things and it can be daunting to think about wedging your way into a new group. I remember my first CLA conference and how it seemed like everyone knew each other and I was some foreigner from a faraway land, i.e. Arizona.

Fast forward to today, I have survived five years in library management in California and have the scars to prove it. There have been many lessons learned and I would love to put my experiences to work for CLA and you. I will bring experience in leadership development, diversifying the library workforce, advocacy, expanding service to rural communities, and fiscally responsible budgeting. I believe in the power of librarians and the impact we can make in the world.

I don’t have any previous CLA committee experience and that means I will bring fresh eyes and new ideas to an already great organization. I appreciate your support and would be honored if you will vote for me.

Many thanks! Jessica 


  1. How do you define leadership?
    Leadership is enabling the excellence of others. I believe in creating a culture of trust and vulnerability so that people are not afraid to innovate and reach for the stretch assignments. As a leader, I do not go into every situation as “the fixer” because I know that the less I do the more ownership others will have.

  2. Why are you interested in this position?
    It is important to be involved and to be a part of the change. The funding and advocacy of all libraries is under attack more now than ever and I do not want to sit on the sidelines. I have been working in California for five years and it is time to take the next step in helping my profession grow and secure its position as key educational assets in our communities.

  3.  How would you describe your personal leadership/communication style?
    I believe in authentic leadership. I lead from why I do what I do. Public libraries saved my life and made me who I am today and that passion drives me each and every day. I am open and transparent and never shy away from a difficult conversation. I am never afraid of doing what is right, even when it is not popular. I understand that not all good ideas are my ideas and welcome hearing from anyone in the organization.

  4.  What strengths would you bring to the position?
    I have worn many hats in public libraries and over the past decade I have worked to hone my administrator and leadership skills. I have been told that I am hard working and understanding of details while keeping sight of the whole picture. I have a skill at maximizing services to our public even with decreasing funding. I am dedicated to bringing the best services and resources to our users and never shy away from making the ask. I have successfully gotten large scale construction projects funded and increased full-time positions for several libraries. I am a strong leader who works hard and perseveres.

  5. What experience do you bring to this position?
    As previously stated, I have worked in all areas of a public library. Most recently I have been the Library Director in Lompoc, CA and for the past two years I have been the sole administrator for the Santa Barbara Public Library. As the Library Director in Lompoc I transitioned that library from being governed by an autonomous board of trustees to becoming a full city department. This involved many hours of negotiations, new governance and reporting structures, as well as budget and financial implications. As the Santa Barbara Public Library Director I have faced similar challenges. For example, I must navigate an extremely delicate political atmosphere. Santa Barbara is contracted to manage libraries for the County and this compounds the political nature of my position exponentially. I must work with mayors, city councils, board or supervisors from all over the County. During my tenure at Lompoc and Santa Barbara I have also sat on the administrative council for the Black Gold Cooperative. During this time I have fought to increase access and equitability and quickly demonstrated a grasp of the many complex issues facing the cooperative. I am a graduate of the PLA Leadership Academy, PLA Dynamic Planning, a LLAMA Mentor, and I also give back to my community by serving as President for the Santa Barbara Junior High PTSA and I sit on the board of Leadership Santa Barbara County.

  6. What issues or trends are particularly informing your work at this time?
    I leverage the power of technology whenever possible. I want the staff at SBPL to be freed from rote tasks and enabled to add value to every interaction with library customers. Funding and advocacy are also a large part of my current position. I manage libraries with varying levels of financial support. Thus, I must lead staff and volunteers in efforts to find structured funding. More locally in Santa Barbara our goals to align with our public schools and community colleges are at the forefront of our work.

  7. Who are the thought leaders (in libraries or in other fields) who interest you?
    I enjoy reading Stephen Abram, Michael Stephens, David Lee King and subscribe to their blogs. I appreciate how Michael is helping libraries shift from the culture of building collections to the culture of building communities. David Lee King keeps technology at the forefront of the change we can make and Stephen Abram brings great insight into helping us all think differently.

  8. Who are the regional and statewide stakeholders libraries need to be in communication with?
    Each library needs to be in communication and in collaboration with the cooperative they belong to. We are all stronger together. Once you have that collegial support it is important to know your elected officials. Who is sitting on City Council, board of supervisors, school board, assembly members, members of congress, etc. It is important to include people of influence in your list of stakeholders. Direct stakeholders would be any educational entity or organization serving our youth, immigrants, and families. Here in Santa Barbara we work hard to foster relationships with stakeholders who might not use our services directly but share our passion for our programs and services. We successfully funded a new children’s library by knowing who these stakeholders are in our community.

  9. What do you feel are the most critical challenges and opportunities facing California libraries right now?
    Budget cuts continue to impact the potential and reach of our public libraries. Funding funnels into everything we do and teaching everyone how to tell the new story of our libraries is essential. The speed of changing technology is also a challenge and an opportunity. We are set to be on the forefront of educating our public and the new advances enable libraries to fulfill their roles as the great equalizer. It also presents challenges as libraries have to continually ensure that staff are trained and prepared to teach our public. Lastly, I cannot state enough the need for proper succession planning and building management and leadership skills throughout public libraries.

    Board Member At-Large

  10. Describe your experience serving on Association committees and/or interest groups.
    My experience working on committees or boards is as follows:
    - I will serve on John Iliff Award Jury for PLA this year
    - Black Gold Administrative Council

  11. Describe your network of connections with library professionals and library stakeholders in California.
    - I offer a unique vantage point as I serve on the Black Gold Administrative Council. The Central Coast can be isolating and having representation from this region is critical.
    - As a graduate of PLA Leadership Academy and PLA Dynamic Planning I have crafted many relationship with colleagues throughout California.
    - I am a member of ICMA (International City/County Manager Association) and MMASC (Municipal Manager Association of Southern California). These affiliations allow me to make contacts and connections with key policy makers.
    - As a graduate of the Harwood Institute and a supporter of my team here at SBPL in continuing the Harwood methods throughout Santa Barbara County we continue to make new connections with stakeholders and colleagues.