Mercury News: Oakland library chief ready for life's next chapter

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December 13, 2012
By Maggie Sharpe

By The director of the Oakland Public Library is beginning a new chapter in her life.

Carmen Martinez, 62, who has led the library through ups and downs for the past dozen years, is set to retire Saturday.

"It was a benchmark that I wanted to retire when I was 62," Martinez said. "You still have the energy and curiosity to keep active and intellectually stimulated. There's a lot to look forward to without the structure of work."

Martinez' contributions to what she calls a "noble cause" were recognized in a formal proclamation from Mayor Jean Quan and Oakland City Council at the Dec. 4 council meeting.

"(The City) commends Carmen Martinez for 12 years of outstanding service and congratulates her on the occasion of her retirement," reads the resolution.

Martinez, a native of Los Angeles who grew up in Glendale, received her bachelor's in arts degree from then-CSU Hayward in Spanish language and literature; a certificate in proficiency in language from the University of Barcelona; and a master's degree in library science from CSU Fullerton.

Martinez was recruited to Oakland in 2000 from the Los Angeles Central Library, where she worked for eight years. The same year, Gerry Garzon, who is taking over from Martinez as interim library director, joined the Oakland Public Library as associate director. He had previously held that position with the Arapahoe Library District in Colorado.

"We both came from library systemswith a lot of money," Martinez said. "So it was a big adjustment for both of us when we came to Oakland."

She said that before she began her job, there hadn't been a director for three years.

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