ALBANY -- Deborah Sica didn't grow up in California, but has always considered it home. Now, she has returned home as the new manager at the Albany Library.
"I have lived out in California before and I really feel at home in California," Sica said.
Sica was hired last month to replace Ronnie Davis, who recently retired from the position earlier this year after 32 years.
"Going to library school, I had always wanted to be the librarian in the smaller community and really grow to know the community," Sica said. "I wanted to know my patrons by name and I feel this is the library where that can happen."
Sica grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and studied English and Women's Studies at State University New York-Buffalo. There, she worked with Charles Bernstein and was first exposed to a library collection — Bernstein had a well-regarded audio collection.
"That's where I started to fall in love with collections," Sica said.
Eventually, she made her way to Boulder, Colo., where she earned a master's degree in writing and poetics at Naropa University. She came to the Bay Area a little over a decade ago to earn a second Master's degree in Library and Information Sciences at San Jose State University.
Sica then moved to Houston, where she had some family. She worked for the Holocaust Museum there. She said that was a "tremendously influential job" for her.
"That solidified my passion for accessibility of libraries for everyone," Sica said. "That was one of those moments where you realize there are haves and have nots."
Sica then moved on to work in the Harris County library system. She was promoted to co-director of the Lone Star College Tomball library, a partnership between the public library system and a local community college.
She said she is excited about the opportunity in Albany.
"I love the community of Albany," Sica said. "I've never had a population as supportive as the population of Albany. One of the things I'm really impressed is the Friends (of the Albany Library) here. It's a benchmark. I see them every day. They work very hard for the library."
She added, "It was inconceivable the amount of support. I know that for 30, 35 years Ronnie was really supported. She poured her heart and soul into the library. I value that."
Sica said she has some ideas about working to improve programs for children in middle grades and there are ideas to work on storytime as well. For the most part, she said she likes the situation she has come into, especially the fact that the library is connected to the Albany Community Center building.
"I used to say in Harris County, 'The library is the community center,' but actually this building, the dual-purpose is the community center," she said. "I like that partnership because it makes it a hub of the community. That's one of the reasons I was really thrilled to get this position."