King County Library System (KCLS) Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum has announced her retirement, effective Nov. 30, 2023.
Rosenblum joined KCLS in January 2018. KCLS has won numerous awards for outstanding services and innovation during her tenure, including a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association for three consecutive years. This year, KCLS was also named a National Medal finalist by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the first time.
“Rosenblum demonstrated an unwavering commitment to patrons throughout the coronavirus pandemic. She brought innovative services and a sense of connection to communities by implementing new online programming, expanding digital collections, boosting Wi-Fi hotspots in library parking lots, and creating safe and convenient access to print materials through curbside service and 24/7 library lockers,” KCLS said in a written statement regarding her retirement. “Furthermore, she established partnerships with Public Health—Seattle & King County to provide vaccine clinics, test kits and masks in libraries, and to help distribute personal protective equipment to nonprofits across the county.”
In 2019, she oversaw the completion of the 2004 Capitol Bond Building Program. The voter-approved $172 million Capital Bond funded the construction of 17 new libraries, 11 expanded libraries, 15 renovated libraries, a parking-lot expansion and a three-level garage. Rosenblum also created and opened Makerspaces at the Bellevue and Federal Way Libraries in 2018 and 2022, respectively. Makerspaces provide free hands-on learning opportunities for people of all ages to explore emerging technologies.
In 2020, Rosenblum established a new diversity, equity and inclusion department, which has strengthened KCLS’ commitment to provide equitable services to its communities. And this spring, she gained the KCLS Board of Trustees’ approval to remove late fines for overdue materials and to clear all late fine accruals from patron accounts. Removing late fines increases accessibility and encourages library use for all patrons.
A distinguished librarian, Rosenblum has spent the past 35 years working for public libraries, according to KCLS. Prior to joining KCLS, she served as the director and chief librarian of the Brooklyn Public Library, as well as the director of multiple library systems in Silicon Valley.
“While the decision to retire was not an easy one, I am thankful that my nearly 20-year run as a library director will end at KCLS,” said KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum. “I have been honored to serve King County residents, and I am proud of the extraordinary work we continue to do to help our patrons grow, learn and thrive.”
The KCLS Board of Trustees is charged with hiring the new executive director. They will conduct a national search for the position with the support of an executive-level search firm.
“Lisa’s innovative and compassionate governance has advanced KCLS’ reputation as a nationally recognized leader in public library systems,” said KCLS Board of Trustees President Harish Kulkarni. “Her library legacy is admirable, and she has left a lasting and positive impact on King County communities. We congratulate Lisa on her achievements and wish her the best in her well-earned retirement.”