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Brown's state librarian appointment isn't by the book

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SACRAMENTO — Librarians aren't known for being loud, but Gov. Jerry Brown may hear some raised voices from that scholarly crowd over his decision Tuesday to appoint a politically connected journalist as the state librarian.

Greg Lucas, 55, is a former political reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. Since 2011, he has been a senior editor for the Sacramento website Capitol Weekly, which covers California politics, and he writes and edits California's Capitol, a website he created that also delves into politics.

Lucas is the son of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas and the husband of Donna Lucas, who heads a political public relations firm and was a top aide to former Republican governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Deukmejian.

Librarians expressed concerns that a non-librarian would be appointed as state librarian.

"A former reporter? What the hell?" said Roy B. Stone, president of the Librarians' Guild, which represents 350 librarians in the city of Los Angeles.

"I'm tired of political appointments everywhere you go for everything," Stone said. "How about the ability of the person to do the job? His resume at this point is pretty lacking as far as the ability to do that job."

Lucas, who will be paid $142,968 annually if confirmed by the Senate, has been a board member at the Friends of the California State Archives since 2012. He has a master's degree in professional writing from USC.

The state librarian oversees the State Library, which serves as a research library for state government and the public as well as collects and preserves historical items, and provides technical assistance and financial grants to local libraries.

Lucas did not respond to a request for comment on his appointment.

Rosario Garza, executive director of the California Library Assn., said the post should be filled by a librarian.

"It's a complex world and we are facing a lot of challenges," Garza said.

Some librarians said it appears the appointment may conflict with the state Education Code, which says the state librarian "shall be a technically trained librarian."

Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor, said Lucas' appointment passes muster with the law, but added: "Our appointee will be pursuing additional technical training through San Jose State University's library science program in the months ahead."

Someone with an advanced degree in library science has special skills and knowledge that can help local libraries provide for an informed electorate, said Axel E. Borg, a librarian at UC Davis.

He said the ideal state librarian was Kevin Starr, who served from 1994 to 2004. Borg said in an email that Starr "was both a professional librarian and a scholar. We lament the absence of someone like Kevin Starr in our State Library."

Westrup defended the appointment, saying Lucas "is an independent thinker, a sharp writer and a keen observer. His appreciation and knowledge of California's history runs deep and the state will be very well served."

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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