Brian Edwards has been in the library business since 1999, when he started in his local library in Alameda, shelving books. He was into arts as a youngster, and librarian streak runs in the family—his mother was a librarian and a storyteller. She was laid off during funding shifts in the 90s', but Edwards made library services his lifelong career.
And on Aug. 12, he will relocate to become the new director of Monterey Public Library, replacing outgoing director Inga Waite, who retired.
“I like serving the community,” says Edwards, who is coming with his partner, son and three pets to California's first public library. His son, Derek, is about to start kindergarten.
One of Edwards’ immediate goals as a library director will be “to open it up more,” offering more services and more access, still lacking after the Covid hiatus. (Current Monterey Public Library hours are 10am-6pm Tuesday-Sunday.)
“I am excited about the powerful collection of the historic materials the museum has,” Edwards says, hoping to make these more accessible, too. As his other task, he sees remodeling and keeping up with facilities built in the 1950s. The biggest challenge and work ahead though—not only for Monterey Public Library, but for libraries nationwide—full digitalization. Not that physical objects, books and DVDs, are going anywhere.
“In times when people buy less DVDs, the library can be a better resource than ever,” Edwards says.
The new library director will resume his responsibilities Tuesday, Aug. 16. Working with the city manager's office, he will also oversee Monterey’s Museums and Cultural Arts Division including the programs and services at four historic sites: Colton Hall Museum and the old jail; Pacific Biological Laboratories; Cannery Row workers shacks; and the Presidio of Monterey Museum, as well as the Alvarado Art Gallery at the Monterey Conference Center.
Before coming to Monterey, Edwards served as the library division director at the Alameda County Library, overseeing library services in the four public libraries in Fremont. Starting at an entry level position for the Alameda 22 years ago, Edwards worked his way up to division director in 2018. He holds a master’s degree in library science, a masters of public administration in management and policy analysis, and a bachelor's in studio art.
Edwards believes libraries should be an inclusive community hub. “I still remember the sense of wonder I felt as a toddler when my mom practiced her stories and songs with me before heading to her role with the library,” he wrote.
As a reader, Edwards loves Christopher Moore, an American writer of comic fantasy and, more recently, a nonfiction writer Malcolm Margolin, who wrote extensively about California indigenous communities and the state’s natural beauty.
“Brian’s combination of library management experience, passion for museum administration, and value in community connection and tradition truly made him an ideal candidate to move the Monterey Public Library into the future,” Chair of the Monterey Public Library Board of Trustees Jennifer Fellguth stated in a press release.