As I See It – Stephen Fitzgerald: A friend on the rise!


Hard work and dedication to one’s work are two traits that will catapult anybody to higher positions!

This was what happened to a friend whom I’ve worked with in serving the city of Milpitas for more than five years in the Milpitas Library Education and Advisory Commission (LEAC).

Stephen Fitzgerald was the Librarian at Los Altos Library in 2007 under the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) before becoming as the Supervising Librarian for Adults and Teens at the Cupertino Library.

When City Librarian Linda Arbaugh retired, Stephen took over as the City Librarian in 2014 and after his appointment he became very much involved with LEAC matters. His promotion was not only based on professional and educational qualifications but, I was told, as a hard-working employee with real commitment towards his work as a librarian.

When I was the chair of the LEAC, a commission tasked with library matters and related services giving advice and recommendations to the Mayor and the city council, he assumed the position and started to establish a spending working relationship with the commission. LEAC is one of 15 city commissions of the city council.

Aside from the commissioners, the city librarian, Santa Clara County librarian, Friends of the Milpitas Library, city council liaison, and the city employee liaison attend the regular meetings.

I’ve worked with him in implementing our commission projects such as the essay writing contest for students of Milpitas schools, the library donation board, campaign for library events/projects, donation policy of the city to the library, and the Community mural depicting FilAm farmers’ (known as the Manongs who staged the famous Delano Grape Strike of 1965) contributions to the California labor movement. The community mural was hanged (… and still hanging) in the walls of the Teen section of the library.

He supported heavily the commission’s projects and if not for his full support and cooperation, our commission projects should have failed. The most memorable project we worked with was the Smithsonian Library display in the Milpitas Library lobby which was also the topic of the essay writing contest that year. He was able to bring the mobile display being exhibited in selected libraries all over the country, the only display site in the Bay Area, by submitting a grant and making close coordination with Smithsonian staff.

He involved library staff to assist us implement our projects and makes sure that our dealings are met.

Fitzgerald received the Employee Excellence Award in 2016 and was instrumental in launching passport services in the Milpitas Library and bringing the grant-funded Smithsonian exhibit Exploring Human Origins to Santa Clara County, more specifically to Milpitas Library.

Then he was promoted to the position of Library Services Manager for Literacy and Learning in the library district. He held the position for a while and then he was again promoted to his current position as the district’s Deputy County Librarian of Community Library Development for SCCLD libraries and continuing to develop excellent library services.

County Librarian Jennifer Weeks said: “Steve brings a calm leadership style and strong dedication to improving public library experiences. He knows the ins and outs of the library system, having worked at several of our Community Libraries and the Services and Support Center for over 14 years. We are fortunate to have his expertise as we move ahead in these new times.”

Fitzgerald will lead the work in resuming full public services at all SCCLD libraries and continuing to develop excellent library services. He assumed his new role on April 5, 2021.

Whenever the County Librarian is not able to attend our regular meetings, the Deputy Librarian attends our meeting on her behalf. So, we are again expecting collaborative work with Steve as he assumes his new role as the deputy librarian of the library district.

The current LEAC commissioners are: Yu-lan Chou, chair; Ha Phan, vice chair; Elpidio R. Estioko, former chair, current commissioner; Hellie Mateo, Dana Arbaugh, Nonie McDonald, Therese Hoang, commissioners; and Susan Loh, alternate commissioner.

Other commission attendees are City Council Liaison Council member Evelyn Chua; Staff Liaison Recreation Services Supervisor, John Macon, recording secretary; Jennifer Weeks, Santa Clara County District Librarian; Kelly McKean, Milpitas City Librarian; and Nonie McDonald, Friends of the Milpitas Library.

The community libraries under the district are: Campbell Library; Cupertino Library; Gilroy Library; Los Altos Library; Milpitas Library; Morgan Hill Library; Saratoga Library; Woodland Branch Library; plus, two Bookmobiles.

We are working closely with the City Council led by young city Mayor Rich Tran and Vice mayor Carmen Montano (she used to be the council liaison to the commission) on matters of the library and related issues.

Kudos to Steve, the rising star of the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD)!