South Pasadena Public Library | Cathy Billings Named 2022 Woman of Distinction

During the pandemic, she and her staff implemented alternative ways to meet the community’s needs.

PHOTO: Nancy Lem | South News | Cathy Billings, South Pasadena Public Library Director

Cathy Billings, director of the South Pasadena Public Library, has been named by California Assemblymember Chris Holden as the recipient of the 2022 Woman of Distinction Award representing South Pasadena.

Holden, who represents the 41st Assembly District, announced his selection in a March 16 news release. She was one of nine chosen from the cities and areas that he represents.

“The 2022 Women of Distinction are dedicated leaders who improve the lives for thousands of individuals and families in the 41st Assembly District and beyond,” Holden said in the news release. His office had received more than 150 nominations for the award from his district, according to the statement.

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Billings was initially hired by the city in 2017 as Assistant Director of the Library. She was named Director in 2019.

She has initiated numerous services and innovations in the Library. A mobile library app introduced in 2021 allows community members to access the Library on their cell phones. New public computers have been installed. In addition, she has also instituted an automatic renewal system for borrowed materials. She worked with the Library Board of Trustees to eliminate overdue fees.

Digital collections have been improved and expanded under her direction. Billings has established a social media presence for the Library.

During the pandemic, she and her staff implemented alternative ways to meet the community’s needs. These included virtual programs and a contactless materials-takeout service. The Library reopened May 17, 2021, after the shutdown caused by the pandemic. Operating hours have returned to normal.

Billings also serves as the Library’s official liaison to the Friends of the Library, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for the Library. In this role, she works with its volunteer Board of Directors and Committee Chairs on operations, planning and events.

For example, she is a resource for the Restoration Concerts Committee to ensure that its performances held in the Library Community Room are a success. She works with the co-chairs of the Friends’ Bookstore on its operations. She and her staff are also involved in the acquisition of thousands of donated books and other materials. Bookstore volunteers sell these to generate funds for the Library.

Billings, along with Library staff, recently organized a Volunteer Recognition Tea to honor the 60 Friends’ volunteers for 2022 as well as those from the past two years. This traditionally annual event sponsored by the Library Board of Trustees has not been held since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to working in South Pasadena, Billings oversaw the reopening of the Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale after its major historic renovation. For a dozen years before that, she served first as the art librarian and then as senior supervisor at this special public library. She has also worked at libraries in New York City and Switzerland. Billings earned a  Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Washington in Seattle.

Assemblymember Holden will sponsor a recognition event for all of the award honorees. In addition to Billings, eight other Women of Distinction will be recognized from throughout the 41st District. They represent Altadena, Claremont, La Verne, Monrovia, Rancho Cucamonga, San Dimas, Sierra Madre and Upland.

Dr. Ying Ying Goh, Director of Public Health and Health Officer for the City of Pasadena and a representative of that city, will be named at the event as the “Woman of the Year” for his district.