Merced County librarian resigning to take new post in Southern California


 Librarian Diane Satchwell, right, with the Friends of the Los Banos Library, is taking a job with the Southern California Library Cooperative.
County Librarian Diane Satchwell, right, with the Friends of the Los Banos Library, is taking a job with the Southern California Library Cooperative. tmiller@ mercedsunstar.com

Merced County Librarian Diane Satchwell announced this week she will resign her position after a little more than a year on the job.

Satchwell, 60, said the decision was prompted by personal medical issues. She has accepted a job as the executive director for the Southern California Library Cooperative. In that role, she will work with the public libraries of Los Angeles, San Diego and Ventura counties.

Satchwell said her last day in Merced County will be sometime at the end of March. She joined the county on Jan. 2, 2013, after working in similar positions in Oregon, Oakland and San Diego.

Of her accomplishments, Satchwell said she’s most proud of communication with the Board of Supervisors. Giving such statistics as the circulation of books in the county’s libraries helped supervisors to better support the libraries in their districts, she said.

“I was able to share specifically what every library in their districts did,” Satchwell said. “These are real numbers that they could hang their hat on when they went out into the communities.”

Satchwell also put together the bookmobile program, an idea that never got off the ground before she started, said board Chairman and District 5 Supervisor Jerry O’Banion.

“It was discussed, but it wasn’t going anywhere until she got it set up,” O’Banion said. “I think in the time she’s been here, she’s really been an asset to the community. It’s too bad she is leaving us.”

Satchwell announced her decision to library staff earlier this week.

“We were just surprised because she’s been here a little over a year and has done a really good job,” said Pamela Cornelison, literacy program coordinator. “It’s just really sad for us that she’s leaving our library because she was very much an advocate of literacy and helping the community.”

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Cornelison added, “it’s kind of a blank slate for us right now.”

Satchwell said she enjoyed her year in Merced but encountered a few difficulties, such as “trying to figure out how to keep the libraries open and staff all the hours of operation.”

The library is set to lose $950,000 in funding from the now-dissolved Redevelopment Agency, a hurdle for the county’s next librarian to overcome. The library’s annual operating budget is set for $2.7 million, according to Satchwell.

She said she’s confident the team can overcome the challenges and continue providing services to Merced County. “The staff have really stepped up, and I threw some huge changes their way,” Satchwell said. “They’ve shined, and there’s a lot of potential here.”

District 4 Supervisor Deidre Kelsey said Satchwell was always looking for ways to improve the library’s services.

“She had some unique ideas, and she seemed to bring a different understanding on how to run the library than we’ve had in the past,” Kelsey said. “Her vision from having outside experience has been helpful.”

Satchwell’s job was posted on Merced County’s website on Feb. 20 and is set to close 5 p.m. on March 24. The position pays $99,840 to $121,430.40 a year.