Oceanside California Dep-uty City Manager Jose Aponte has received the distinction of being the only municipal official and the sole California representative appointed to serve on the advisory committee of the prestigious Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries.
The First Lady created the national foundation last year to support the nation’s libraries by awarding grants to school libraries for the purchase of books. The 10-member advisory committee, to which Aponte has been appointed, will determine Foundation policies and funding guidelines and oversee the grant process.
Mrs. Bush is a former public school teacher and librarian. In her invitation letter to Aponte she wrote:
“In visiting schools across the country, I have become disturbed by the poor quality and sometimes complete lack of books in school libraries, particularly in low income communities. With the guidance of the advisory committee, this new foundation will make grants that will go directly toward improving this distressing situation.”
Aponte, 51, has spent 23 years running libraries in California, Arizona and Florida. He came to Oceanside six years ago as Library Director and was promoted to Deputy City Manager in 2000. He continues to oversee a number of the City’s cultural and artistic programs and works extensively with neighborhoods and community organizations.
“I’ve worked in some of the thoughest neighborhoods and helped bring literacy programs into them,” said Aponte. “I know that the poorest neighborhoods often have the poorest schools with the poorest libraries. That needs to change and I hope that my perspective will help that along on the committee.”
Aponte acknowledges bringing comparatively limited school library experience to a committee made up of university library experts, school district superintendents and national library association heads.
“I do have lots of experience with students and people in schools and with youth and teen moms, parents and kids,” said Aponte. “What I hope to bring to this committee is the vision of someone who has watched Oceanside turn its library system around and who watched schools go from some of the worst to academic models. I want to take that vision to a level that touches other communities.”
During his tenure in Ocean-side, Aponte co-authored a California State Literacy Grant for the five-year Oceanside Reads Literacy Program; opened the award-winning Community Computer Center that affords free and equal community computer access seven days a week; helped conceive and administrate a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences for the “Sulu o le Tautua: A Tribute to American Samoan Art and Cultural Traditions that feature museum exhibitions, musical performances and educational programs and helped plan, fund and build the César Chávez Park in a diverse, transitioning neighborhood.
Before coming to Oceanside, he served as Branch Manager and Reference Specialist at the Main Library in Tucson, Arizona, Coordinator of Ethnic Services Outreach and Agency Manager for the Santa Barbara Public Library, Director of the San Juan Capistrano Multicul-tural Performing and Visual Arts Series, Principal Administrative Librarian at the San Juan Capistrano Regional Library, and Library Director for the West Palm Beach Public Library.
Aponte has a Bachelor of Arts from Bard College in Annandale on the Hudson, New York and Bilingual of Library Science from the University of Arizona/Graduate Library Institute for Spanish-Speaking Americans in Tucson, Arizona. He and his wife Cynthia have been married for 22 years and have two children, Tony, 20 and Pablo, 18.