Name: Christian Esquevin
Position: Director of Library Services.
Overview: Esquevin, as his title suggests, has a broad role as overseer of the city’s library on Orange Avenue. The library incorporates the past, present and future:
- Part of the library’s original 1909 structure serves as a reading room.
- Its bright, modern-looking 40,000-square-foot facility houses some 165,000 printed items and books, about 45,000 pieces of media (DVDs, CDs, etc.) and computer stations and WiFi for visitors to write and do research.
Esquevin, 61, talks about the pace of evolution in libraries being much more rapid now, with the adaptation of eBooks and more demand for computers. “These are changing times,” he says.
His responsibilities: Esquevin oversees all services, from the physical facility to the staff – the library has 38 employees, about half of them part-time. He also handles daily services and planning for the future and programs for all ages, from preschoolers to senior citizens and tweens to teens. He’s involved in selecting and providing resources (books, DVDs and subscription services, for instance) and for planning displays, visits by authors and lecturers, the showing of films and children’s programs.
The accidental librarian: Esquevin had no intention of being a librarian, and came to his career “in a roundabout manner.” He earned his bachelor’s in cultural anthropology at Cal State Los Angeles, and only considered the field when a classmate counseled him that jobs were plentiful and the work was “a piece of cake.”
He earned his master’s at USC’s School of Library and Information Science and eventually was hired by the San Diego County Library, where he worked for 11 years. It proved a great training ground, with branches from Jacumba to Vista, that all required different services to best fit their communities. Esquevin, already a Coronado resident, has been with the Coronado library since 1988. Though he discovered the work wasn’t cake and the jobs weren’t plentiful, he’s enjoyed the career.
Growing and adapting: Esquevin likes the challenge of change (“It’s pretty natural for me,” he says) and planning for ways libraries can stay relevant. During his career libraries have evolved from card catalogues and nothing but printed material to digital resources and subscriptions to Internet databases. “With the Internet, there’s a lot of information that’s free, but there’s a lot more that’s held by commercial entities that charge for use,” he says, explaining that libraries can subscribe to these services and help users with research and access to information that would be otherwise too expensive.
The best part: He gets a kick when “children come and get excited,” he says. “You can see it in their faces. That’s always rewarding.”
The worst part: Disappointing members of the public who can’t find what they need, or dealing with “unhappy” borrowers who don’t like the fines for late returns. Also, keeping a large building up and running can be a headache. “There’s always something wrong, which is never fun,” he says.
Own reading habits: Esquevin says he’s always loved books and reading, but his attention span has gotten much shorter. “I start reading one book and then pick up another,” he says. “I never complete one. I’m a serial reader, moving from one to another.” He says he has so many books he’s “run out of space for them.”
Away from work: Esquevin likes to cook, and he enjoys classic movies, especially from the 1930s through 1950s and the costume designs of the times. The films of Frank Capra are among his favorites. For a couple of years now, he has written a blog (silverscreenmodiste.com) on classic movies, costume design and their impact on modern fashion.
The (wrong) image: Libraries, Esquevin says, have been stereotyped forever as quiet, sanctuary-like places to work, a sort of retreat from the noisy world. “This is not the place,” he says. “We have all kind of real-world problems.”
Quotable: “We’re always trying to find a way to use technology and apply it to serve the public better,” he says.