Women’s History Month Q&A Series: Elizabeth Goldman

Library Services Director Elizabeth Goldman has led the city's library functions for six years , and she has dedicated a total 15 years to this career field. (photo courtesy of the City of Burbank)

Elizabeth, who began her role as the City of Burbank Library Services Director in 2016, has devoted a total of 15 years to working in the library field.

A graduate of Stanford University and the University of Michigan, Elizabeth has fulfilled the Burbank community’s demands while updating library operations as needed in this position. She has additionally been a board member of both the Burbank YMCA and the California Library Association.

In our Q&A discussion, Elizabeth recalls her journalism roots and advises young women to know their worth as they move toward their goals.

What has your career path been like getting to your current role with the City of Burbank?

I started my career as a journalist and later continued my education with a master’s degree in information. Over the course of my library career, I have worked my way up from frontline service to being the director of a small, rural library to my current position in Burbank as library services director. I have moved a lot for personal and career reasons, and this has given me a good perspective on serving the whole diversity of the public that we serve in a public library setting.

What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most? 

I enjoy working in a community as engaged supportive as Burbank. People live here because they want the great services, and they help make that happen by volunteering, serving on boards, and working to improve the community. I also enjoy working with my talented staff, colleagues and community partners. We are able to make some great things happen in Burbank.

How does it feel to be a female serving in a leadership position for the city? 

We have a gender-balanced executive team and a lot of women in leadership roles in the city, which creates a supportive atmosphere. Compared to some other places I have worked, the sexism here – while it exists, as it does everywhere – is mild. Libraries as a field are dominated by white women, so one of the things I have tried to do is use my privilege to open doors for individuals from underrepresented groups to join our staff and board and thrive in leadership positions, whether formal or informal.

Which women in your life have inspired you the most to go after your goals? 

Certainly I have been inspired by my mother, who among other things went back to school for a second master’s degree after her youngest child left for college. She helped me find my voice at a young age and taught me not to lose sight of my values, even as I pursued my ambitions. I was also inspired early on by my first boss at the newspaper in my hometown where I worked as a teen. She was the editor and publisher, and in fact, the top several positions in the organization were filled by women. That normalized the idea of women in leadership roles for me. 

What advice would you impart to young girls pursuing their dreams?

Know (and believe in) your own value. It’s very easy as girls and women to internalize all of the overt and subtle messaging that women are worth less, are less smart and capable, and should always put themselves second. To counter this, we don’t need to act “male.” We just need to carry ourselves with confidence and purpose. Letting go of what you think you should do or be will open up doors for achieving your goals.