With the iconic Oceanside Pier and historic Highway 101; the California Surf Museum, Oceanside Museum of Art and historic theaters, Oceanside, California is the quintessential SoCal beach town complete with an emerging arts and culture scene. Of the 18 years that CJ DiMento has lived in Oceanside, she has spent 15 years providing her project management skills to making the Oceanside Public Library the cultural heart of this colorful, coastal city.
CJ began her career in library services when she and her husband were stationed in Stuttgart, Germany during his time in the United States Air Force. When the local German town she lived in sought help in bringing a children’s library to their community, CJ volunteered her time to seek book donations and travel to military bases throughout Europe to collect unwanted and unused books. Through their extended networks and the help of the local government, they were permitted to develop a small, local building into a children’s library.
Inspired by the resources and inclusion that public libraries offer, CJ noted how library services impacted people’s lives, their ability to communicate through reading and writing, and their perception of themselves. During their time overseas CJ earned her master of arts degree in human relations, underscoring her work connecting communities with resources.
In her role as Library Division Manager for the Oceanside Public Library, CJ regularly collaborates with arts organizations to bring programming to the library and support local creatives. As City Staff Liaison for the Oceanside Arts Commission, she provides her community engagement expertise to the Commission’s goals to foster the development and enjoyment of performing, visual, cultural and other arts in the city of Oceanside; make recommendations to the City Council on the development and promotion of practices and policies pertaining to the arts; and to work cooperatively with city entities and other advisory commissions to include the arts in as many areas of city planning and development as possible.
The Cultural District designation was a natural path for the city of Oceanside. The designation placed Oceanside’s arts and culture scene at the forefront of the economic development and tourism industries, and spurred the finalization of the Arts Commission’s O’Arts: Master Plan for the Arts proposal to City Council.
As an emerging arts community, CJ recognizes the endless possibilities for the city of Oceanside and hopes that doors will continue to open for local creatives. She also looks forward to modeling Oceanside’s arts programming around successful strategies from other cities to bring big opportunities to this classic beach town.
When asked to share her favorite piece of advice, CJ shared, “Collaborate with your public library! Many communities don’t realize the power of public libraries and how they thrive on inclusion and cultural awareness. I strongly encourage anyone aiming to connect with their community to partner with their local public library.”