Kathleen Sullivan

Kathleen Sullivan

Kathleen Sullivan has always enjoyed books.

She enjoys books so much that in 1994, she got a job at the Malibu Public Library and became a beloved friend to readers young and old. As an avid reader, Sullivan has been a preeminent book advisor, recommending titles, searching for hard to find publications and getting to know almost every reader who stepped through the library doors.

Sullivan also operated the Bookmobile, which drove to Malibu parking lots, making stops from Zuma to Topanga, to ensure that everyone in the area had access to books they could enjoy.  

A 41-year resident of Malibu, Sullivan worked at the library for 17 years. She then became a board member of the Friends of the Malibu Library program and now serves as president. It’s through her volunteer service that Sullivan has given Malibu a great gift. 

While working at the library, Sullivan noticed that Malibu received far fewer allocated resources than other county libraries. Sullivan shared that “it became obvious to me that our library was being short changed.”

After her stunning discovery, Sullivan reported the news to then-City Council Member Pamela Conley-Ulich. With help from the Malibu City Council, the Library Task Force was formed.

“The task force found the county was systematically withholding $500,000 per year,” Sullivan said. Over the course of eight years, the city was able to recover $6 million from the County of Los Angeles. That money, along with input from Malibu Library patrons and a lot of planning, helped transform what was once a dreary, dusty, outdated and underserved county library location into the beautiful, bright, modern and up-to-date facility it is today. 

Sullivan’s volunteerism continues today as she runs the Friends of the Library bookstore in the renovated Malibu Library. Putting in hard work to gather donations of books, CDs, DVDs and periodicals, Sullivan and a group of volunteers organizes, catalogues and then sells the donations for $1 each.

Money raised is used to sponsor children’s and summer reading programs that bring in guests and are popular with the Malibu area youth. The donations also help fund the Malibu Speakers Series, cooking classes and other programs geared toward adults.

Those who nominated Sullivan for a Dolphin Award call her “tireless” and “giving.” Sullivan praised those who work with her.

“We have a good group of volunteers who spend time in the bookstore,” she said. “I care about what happens here in our city and the people here. It’s about the people and making your city better.”