Point Reyes librarian retires after two decades at community post

12/16/2020

After the better part of two decades at the helm of the Point Reyes Library, Jennifer Livingston retired last week. Admired for her energy, dedication and can-do spirit, Ms. Livingston has been the glue between the library and community members of all ages throughout her tenure. “She’s a bridge builder, she’s an ally, she’s the kind of person you always want on your team because she will give it 1,000 percent,” said Madeline Hope, who has collaborated with Ms. Livingston to offer local youth programming over the years. In addition to presiding over the library’s collection, staff and programs, Ms. Livingston has served as a key liaison with the schools, including leading library visits, supporting class projects, and spearheading an effort to provide every student with a library card. “Jennifer and her team have just been one of the best resources our school could have asked for,” said Peggy Reina, West Marin School’s sixth-grade teacher. “She goes out of her way to make it as easy as possible to get the resources we need to best teach our students.” Ms. Livingston hails from Connecticut and earned a degree in French and environmental studies from the University of Vermont. She arrived in California to visit a friend in the late ‘80s and never left. She quickly found herself drawn to West Marin, and after her first job landscaping for Nancy Stein, she worked for Outdoor Adventures in Point Reyes Station. A stepmother and mother of four sons, she began subbing in the Marin County Free Library in 1999 while her children were young. A large part of raising her kids had already been bringing home “piles of books,” she said, and the library offered a good opportunity to re-enter the workforce as a mother. After taking on increasing responsibility, she landed her current role as the community library specialist for the Point Reyes Station branch in 2004. Over her 21 years at the library, she has worn many hats, keeping her engaged and on her toes. “Jennifer greets every patron by name—she knows your name, and she knows what you like to read,” said Raemona Little Taylor, the senior librarian and education coordinator for the West Marin libraries. “She gives the library that community feel.” During the pandemic, Ms. Livingston stepped in to help the library system adapt, working to design the curbside pickup program and provide hotspots to children without internet access at home. For younger readers, she assisted in creating a new service called “book bundles,” where librarians can make selections for kids and their families who cannot browse the shelves on their own. Recently, she also helped put together “conscious kids book kits,” which include a selection of books along with a discussion guide to support parents to talk about race with their children. She has continued providing services while the library’s doors have remained shut, researching and printing materials for residents without computers at home, and she has kept her book club alive online. She plans to keep subbing in her retirement, and volunteering for the schools. But she will also have more time to travel with her husband, Marshall, and do everything she loves to do at home: climbing Mount Vision, playing tennis, swimming in Tomales Bay and gardening. Her sister-in-law and the longtime head of the Stinson Beach Library, Kerry Livingston, said, “Jennifer is a mover and a shaker and a role model. It’s been astounding how much she has done. She has really served her community, and I know she will continue to do so.”