New Pittsburg, Bay Point library manager finds her calling
By Lou Fancher
New Pittsburg and Bay Point senior community library manager Ginny Golden knows both abundance and deprivation.
Growing up in Concord after moving with her parents as a first-grader from the small Central Valley town of Taft, near Bakersfield, her father worked for Chevron and traveled all over the world while her mother never learned to drive or swim and never cooked a single meal until the day she was married.
Golden's modest family life as one of four children born to her parents in a five-year span burst into extravagant, imaginative mental excursions sparked by ostrich eggs from the African bushland and dolls from Columbia, brought home as gifts by her father.
Travel was about far away fantasies; people and animals from other cultures were magical; and a Saturday morning trip to the local library was an invitation to dream beyond the boundaries of her comparatively sequestered life.
Earning a promotion after four years as children's librarian at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, Golden moves to helm the Contra Costa County libraries in Pittsburg and Bay Point.
It's a bittersweet return to old digs, says Golden.
"Lafayette is about bringing together other cultures and curious people who are interested in others. They want to learn, to get exposure to the world. People (in Lafayette) know they're blessed and are looking for ways to share with others who have less.
"At the same time, Pittsburg is an amazing community. I worked there for a year before coming to Lafayette. So it's a return to a community I know well."
Married for 29 years to Milton Golden, recently retired as the owner of a hardwood flooring company, the Goldens have four adult children and five grandchildren. Tight bonds have Golden attending her youngest child's baseball games at Sacramento City College and eagerly answering the call from her daughters for a grandmother to babysit.
It would look like a storybook life if the abundance of affection were not muted by the hardship of hanging on to their Concord home.
Economic downturns in the 2000s and a leg injury sent Golden and her husband spinning. "It's the home I grew up in and I wasn't going to let it go," she says of her home. The effort has meant sometimes working seven days a week and watching expenses with an eagle eye.
After graduating from Chico State with a visual communications degree and planning to be a photographer, Golden worked at Sunset Magazine before marrying and becoming a full-time mom for 15 years. Returning to the workforce, she was a substitute classroom teacher in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District until she was laid off in 2009.
Golden decided to complete her master's degree in library sciences at San Jose State, and following the advice of a school librarian who told her "You're a librarian type, not a teacher type," Golden found her destiny.
"I'll always be a children's book librarian, you can't take that out of who I am," Golden says. "My new role is to help my children's book librarian, Becky Nielson, and to bring larger programs I've done in Lafayette to Pittsburg and Bay Point."
Lafayette Senior Librarian Vickie Sciacca says Golden's surname "aptly captures her ... she's absolutely golden."
Working together for three years, Sciacca says, "Her vision for bringing together innovative programs, notable writers and illustrators, support of our local schools, and developing community partnerships was fulfilled. I know she will continue with the brilliant work that she has always done. New communities will now benefit from her gifts, talents, and generous nature."
Golden remembers leading drawing projects in Pittsburg at which several kids hadn't finished their artwork when the day ended. "I told them they could take it home to finish and they'd tell me, 'I don't have crayons at home.' These are young families that care and want the best for their kids. It'll be a natural fit to bring opportunities I've created here to people there."
She is planning to bring a Maasai warrior project and space exploration programming to the Pittsburg and Bay Point libraries.
The biggest issue for adults is online job applications, Golden says. Providing printers and computer skills, a safe place for the homeless, a cool space on a hot day, and other supports are primary.
"It's not just about checking out books. It's a safe hangout where families can spend an entire day."