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Meet Milpitas Library's Linda Arbaugh

About 2,200 patrons visit the library daily, but most haven't met the woman behind the scenes.

Linda Arbaugh's long history with the library dates back to the early '80s, when she worked as a librarian in the old location next to City Hall. Today, she oversees operations in the newly built library, supervising 60 staff members.

Milpitas Patch: How popular is the new library?

Linda Arbaugh: Well, 2,200 people come in on an average day. It's a very busy library, especially Saturdays and Sundays. We are the busiest public building in Milpitas. There's a counter on the gates. It's done automatically. In fact, I think it misses babies being carried in. I think it misses a good 20 percent, quite frankly. 

Patch: Did you play a role in designing the new building?

Arbaugh: One of the guiding lights was that we were not getting any additional staffing for the new building. So we had to be very careful with the service desks (children's, adult)...We said we had to have good sight lines, because the person at that desk has to sometimes be the only person to supervise a whole great big area of the building. So the architects listened to us.

Patch: How do you manage a staff of 60?

Arbaugh: Basically, I see my job as making it easier for the rest of the staff to do their jobs... If there are obstacles, I try to remove them. If there is any training that's needed, I see that it happens. And if they need a piece of equipment. Because they're all really good at their jobs. I'm the person to help them make it possible for them to do their best.

Patch: What's the advantage of being part of a county library system?

Arbaugh: For example, Mountain View (a library not part of the county system) has to order their own books, receive their own books, process their own books. They have their own bookmobile. They have to run all those different parts of the library. We are just the front end. We just do the public service here. All that ordering, receiving and processing is done at our headquarters. 

Patch: Tell us about a highlight of your work day.

Arbaugh: I really love working at the reference desk one or two hours a day. I like to keep in touch with what people are asking for and also the different types of materials that we have here.  

Patch: What books do you have on your bedside table?

Arbaugh: Well, I like nonfiction. In fact, I just checked out War by Sebastian Junger. But, I also like meaty fiction. I just finished Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. Really good book. And I have a knitting book on my beside table with patterns for scarves. And I have a book on CD checked out, which is a biography of Oprah, which I'm enjoying. I have a TV series checked out, too. It's called Big Love. So I kind of have eclectic taste.

Patch: How is the library trying to be more contemporary like Borders Books?

Arbaugh: We are conscious of the Borders feel and how people can go in there and have their latte. The coffee shop is right there. The south wing at the library is meant to be a browsing area. And that's why we do allow people to come in with capped drinks anywhere in the library, except not close to the computers. And then they can eat here in the lobby. They can eat snacks.

In the south wing, we went with the Borders style display units so people could whip through the CDs really fast. Much better than what we had in the old library. So yes, we're conscious of that.  

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