Anwan Baker has been named the new director of the Lodi Public Library.

The library’s board of trustees were set to approve an agreement with Baker on Monday evening, and he is scheduled to start on Sept. 24.

“In Mr. Baker, the board is delighted to have found someone who has the skills and passion to lead the Lodi Public Library,” Board president Caitlin Casey said. “At a time when libraries are adjusting to new needs and expectations, Mr. Baker brings a variety of talents that ensure the library remains a relevant and vital resource for the Lodi community.”

Baker will fill the vacancy left open after the sudden retirement of former library director Dean Gualco earlier this year.

City spokesman Jeff Hood, who also serves as the director of Lodi Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, had been serving as interim library director for the past eight months until trustees were able to fill the position.

Baker has been an adult services supervisor with the Berkeley Public Library system since 2012.

Previously, he served in a variety of roles for the Live Oak Public Libraries in Savannah, Ga., including three management positions.

Baker was twice the chair of the Savannah Children’s Book Festival, the largest children’s book festival in the country.

Baker holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Florida State University as well as undergraduate and master’s degrees in social work, which provided valuable experience working on child welfare, foster care, mental health and substance abuse issues.

Baker has an affinity for small towns, which is why he was drawn to Lodi.

“It gives me a unique opportunity to bond with those in the community and create programs and services that enhance the lives of the people in Lodi,” Baker said. “It’s something special about this place and it makes me want to get in there, roll up my sleeves and get to know everybody by a first-name basis and be able to create things that benefit them through the public library system.”

Baker is looks forward to getting to know the people of Lodi, as well as library staff, in order to better understand what is needed to modernize the library. He would like to offer more digital literacy and culture-based programs to enhance Lodi’s quality of life.

The biggest challenge he will face as he takes on the role of library director, Baker said, is becoming familiar with his new surroundings, as he learns how the city operates and the current list of services and programs the library offers. He plans to use that information to determine the future needs of the library.

“That would be the most work for me initially, to assess everything and grab the data that I need to actually chart my course for the library system,” he said.

Baker hopes to strengthen the community, bringing together people from different backgrounds and beliefs.

“I want it to be a community meeting hub for everyone,” Baker said

A former social worker, Baker has had extensive experience with community outreach and addressing the needs of the community. He plans to apply those skills to his new position as library director.

“I wanted to change people’s lives,” Baker said on why he entered the library field. “I wanted to empower them and give them the information in order to make powerful decisions that would better their lives.”

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