Miami-Dade County

June 4, 2014

End of a chapter: Miami-Dade library chief to retire

The public library system will lose its director of 16 years in the middle of a budget crunch.

The director of Miami-Dade County’s public libraries, which have been besieged by budget cuts, is retiring.

Raymond Santiago, who has headed the library department for 16 years, will step down effective Aug. 1, he said Wednesday.

Santiago said he is departing because he is turning 65 and has been working in county government for 24 years — and not because of the budget crunch that has put library branches and jobs at risk.

Last year, the library system staved off 169 layoffs and a drastic reduction in operating hours by tapping its reserves. As a result, this year it faces a $20 million budget hole.

Making more with less is nothing new for libraries, according to Santiago.

“That weighs on me every year,” Santiago said. “It’s really easy to run things and manage things when there’s lots of money. This is what the job is: You deal with the good, you deal with the bad, you deal with the difficult.”

Two library advocacy groups — Friends of the Miami-Dade Public Library System and the Coalition to Save Our Libraries — called on the county to conduct a national search for Santiago’s replacement.

While he plans to remain active in national and international library circles, Santiago said he hopes to spend his retirement traveling and visiting with his grandchildren.

In a statement, Mayor Carlos Gimenez praised Santiago’s 43-year career as a librarian and wished him well.

“Raymond’s 16-year tenure as director has led the way toward greater modernization, a more robust use of technology, and libraries emerging as community centers for gathering and learning,” Gimenez said.

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