After 28 years of working as library director in Livermore, Susan Gallinger is set to retire April 15.

"It's been amazing working in a community that appreciates their libraries so much," said Gallinger.

The Livermore Library system has changed dramatically since 1985, when Gallinger came to Livermore. Her efforts to modernize and automate the library operations have been ongoing ever since.

The culmination of that effort was the Livermore Civic Library, a building that cost more than $20 million to build. The 56,000-square-foot facility, which has been open for nine years, offers a number of high-tech services, as well as a cafe. There are 75 computers, which Gallinger said are in high demand. There's free Wi-Fi, and, of course, an impressive selection of books -- 800,000 items. Gallinger said that the Livermore Civic Library project was the most rewarding in her career.

More recently, she has overseen the transition from the libraries solely being a source for book-borrowing to a place for child development programs and access to computers and technology. The Livermore Library even has more than 19,000 e-books available for borrowing.

Gallinger said she opened the Springtown branch in 1986 in order to serve that part of town, but it no longer was getting enough use to justify keeping it open. But she might have found an innovative way to keep the branch open as a satellite. The branch is being reinvented as a fully automated, self-service book and DVD lending center that will allow it to remain open despite having no funds to staff it. Gallinger said that there are already a small number of people who have key cards to use the automated system and that officials will look to expand the Springtown branch's use in the coming weeks after all the glitches have been worked out.

In 1986, Gallinger also launched the summer reading program, which continues to be very popular among Livermore's youth today. In 1986, 19 children were recognized for reading 100 books in the summer. Last year, more than 800 children read 100 books, getting prizes along the way and being recognized by the City Council.

The Rincon branch, which opened in 1992, was created to serve the multicultural residents of that part of town. Gallinger said that branch continues to help an underserved part of the community and offers services geared toward recent immigrants and the poor. Gallinger plans to golf and travel -- she will go to Scandinavia with her husband this summer.

Tamera Lebeau, the current assistant director, will be named the interim director in April when Gallinger retires. Then a search will be conducted and Lebeau will likely be one of many applicants considered to fill the position. Gallinger said that she doesn't expect too many changes to the library services in the near future, simply because of budget constraints.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@bayareanewsgroup.com.