New library boss hopes to excite |

New library boss hopes to excite

When John Ford’s classic film “The Grapes of Wrath” was released in 1940, it never played in Hanford, the county seat of Kings County.

The film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel highlighted the mistreatment of Oklahoma Dust Bowl refugees who migrated to California seeking agricultural work.

“Grapes of Wrath never showed here. It was too hot to handle in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Steve Fjeldsted, Kings County Librarian.

But in October, more than 500 people showed up when Fjeldsted organized a free showing of the film at the Hanford Fox Theatre, a restored 1930s movie house. The popular event featured free food, live music, a Spanish language facilitator and a talk by Dr. Susan Shillinglaw, director of Steinbeck studies at San Jose State.

Fjeldsted hopes to generate the same kind of excitement about Nevada County’s libraries.

On Feb. 3, he takes over as Nevada County’s head librarian, replacing Francisco Pinneli, who left to take a job as head librarian in the city of Santa Maria.

“I really want to make Nevada County my last (career) stop for me and my family. We think it’s so rich in culture, history and natural beauty,” said Fjeldsted. He and his wife, Joy, have a 7-year-old son.

A California native who’s “only been outside California on a handful of visits,” Fjeldsted has a master’s degree in library science from San Jose State University. He has worked in various capacities in public libraries including in Kings, Tulare, Madera, and Fresno counties and the city of Orange.

“I’ve been doing a lot of things that are very entrepreneurial,” Fjeldsted said. For example, at the Madera library he started coffee sales and helped produce a fund-raising history book and cookbook.

“I think that there are things that libraries can do to raise money,” Fjeldsted said.

Fjeldsted is a 6-foot, 5-inch Norwegian American who played four years of college basketball at Los Angeles Valley Junior College and Stanislaus State University.

“But it seemed like everybody I ever guarded was 6’9” or above,” he said.

County Administrator Ted Gaebler announced Fjeldsted’s hire Tuesday.

“He was thrilled to see the position open,” Gaebler said.

Fjeldsted is still in the process of signing his contract and declined to discuss his salary and benefits.

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