Jill Bourne Named 2017 Librarian of the Year

National award recognizes San José Public Library's city librarian!

The cover of Library Journal magazine with a smiling Jill Bourne on it.NEW YORK – January 4, 2017 – Jill Bourne, city librarian of California’s San José Public Library (SJPL), has been named the 2017 Library Journal Librarian of the Year. Sponsored by Baker & Taylor, this annual award recognizes one talented individual for transforming their library and community, and leading the profession toward innovation. Bourne is notable for her effectiveness in reversing the trajectory of a library system in decline.

Upon her arrival in 2013, Bourne faced the effects of years of decimating budget shortfalls and service cuts. The system’s 23 branches had all been built or renovated previously but several of the new buildings were already shuttered. Bourne spearheaded her Library Access Strategy, opened the libraries, built new relationships with and support from San José’s civic leadership, leveraged partnerships, fostered innovation, energized and inspired the library’s staff.

San José mayor Sam Liccardo credits Bourne with leading an impressive comeback and also with advancing San José libraries:

"Jill’s leadership has truly moved our libraries forward," he says. "Today, branch libraries provide a range of services to our residents that they never had before, including free lunches in the summer, coding classes, makerspaces, and citizenship workshops."

To enable new services, Bourne built relationships with Silicon Valley tech companies, including eBay, PayPal, and Microsoft, to enhance public access to technology and applied learning through STEAM education and maker programs. Bourne also led the creation of TeenHQ, a center that offers learning tools, such as a makerspace and a recording studio, and serves as a nexus to connect teens to the full range of services. December 2016 marked the launch of the Maker[Space]Ship, a state-of-the-art mobile makerspace that will travel to branches, schools, after-school programs, senior centers, affordable housing and early childhood caregivers.

Bourne’s overhaul of SJPL’s fine and fee structure has already led to the restoration of 100,000 library users. After a year of hard work, Bourne garnered support from the council for a total revision of all the fines, plus "programs…that would help people to get their debt to the library eliminated." Patrons can work as volunteers. In turn, SJPL pays $20 an hour against fines.

"Bourne offers deep experience and ingenuity that has reinvigorated San José’s libraries and provides an inspiring model for peers nationwide," said Rebecca T. Miller, editorial director of Library Journal. "She is inspiring for her pure effectiveness as well as her expansive view of how libraries can improve the lives of everyone in our communities. We couldn’t be more pleased to name her the 2017 Librarian of the Year."

In her three-and-a-half years at SJPL, Bourne has had oversight of a department budget of $54 million and more than 700 staffers. She implemented an extensive audit of SJPL operations and efficiencies, hired 100 staff in three months, and managed the partnership with San José State University for operation of the shared Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. She also served as a Knight Foundation advisor on reimagining public libraries, and has recently taken on a role as head of San José’s Education and Digital Literacy Initiative.

The award is celebrated in a cover story in the January issue of the magazine and at a special reception during ALA Midwinter in Atlanta, GA. Read the full story online.

About Library Journal

Founded in 1876, Library Journal is one of the oldest and most respected publications covering the library field. Over 75,000 library directors, administrators, and staff in public, academic, and special libraries read LJ. Library Journal reviews over 8000 books, audiobooks, videos, databases, and websites annually, and provides coverage of technology, management, policy, and other professional concerns. For more information, visit libraryjournal.com. Library Journal is a publication of Media Source Inc., which also owns School Library Journal, The Horn Book publications, and Junior Library Guild.


Krista Rafanello

Elizabeth Castañeda

Nancy Macias


This is wonderful for San Jose Public Library! Congratulations Jill and SJPL library team, what a well-deserved achievement!

So wonderful your hard work was recognized and for putting our outstanding public institution on map. So happy for you and all the staff who aided in implementing the changes. Julie N Pearl Avenue branch patron

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