SACRAMENTO — The son of a former California Supreme Court justice won approval Wednesday from a state Senate panel as the new state librarian after initial concerns that he had never worked in the field and had no formal training as a librarian when he was nominated.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown named Greg Lucas of Sacramento to the $143,000-a-year post in March.
State law requires the appointee to be a technically trained librarian, and Lucas said he began taking an online master’s degree library science class this month from San Jose State University.
The Senate Rules Committee approved the appointment without opposition on a bipartisan 5-0 vote and sent it to the full Senate for final consideration.
Deborah Doyle, president of the California Library Association, said librarians were initially surprised by Brown’s choice of Lucas, but she has since been impressed by Lucas’ performance and interest in getting to know libraries and their users.
“It is a political appointment,” she said before testifying in favor of Lucas at the committee hearing. “He seems to have lots of connections that sometimes people who have been born and raised in the library system don’t normally have.”
Lucas is the son of former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas. He is married to Donna Lucas, who heads a politically connected Sacramento public relations agency and previously worked for former Republican governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Deukmejian.
A Democrat and journalist, Greg Lucas covered the Capitol for the San Francisco Chronicle and, earlier, the Los Angeles Daily Journal, from 1985 to 2007.
Since then, he has written a political blog and was an editor at Capitol Weekly, a publication also covering state government.
Lucas’ qualifications were not questioned by state senators at the hearing Wednesday, and Doyle and other library representatives told the committee that his resume shouldn’t matter because he will be a strong public voice for libraries.
No one spoke in opposition at the hearing. However, Roy Stone, president of the Librarians’ Guild, said in a telephone interview that he is still concerned.
“It’s just not right,” said Stone, who represents librarians in Los Angeles. “There’s plenty of qualified librarians and he could have tapped into them.”
The California State Library has branches near the Capitol and in San Francisco. Along with holding historical books and documents, it does research for the governor, lawmakers, other government employees and the public. It also works with local libraries around the state.
Lucas holds a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. He also has been on the board of the Friends of the California State Archives since 2012.