Amber Clark was shot and killed Tuesday by a masked gunman in the parking lot of the North Natomas Public Library, where she worked as a library supervisor. She began working for the Sacramento Library about three and a half years ago as a youth services librarian, and worked in Florin, North Highlands and Natomas.
Library Director Rivkah Sass spoke Wednesday night about Clark, and her impact on the library.
“There was something about her smile that was just really unique,” Sass said. “It was kind of a little sideways. ... If I could do caricatures, that’s how I would get her smile. A little bit sideways, like ‘I know you better than you know yourself.’ ”
A former high school English teacher, Clark was very passionate about literacy, access, libraries “as welcoming spaces” and serving people with special needs, Sass said.
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“While she was with us she did all of those things,” Sass said. “I remember when she started an open mic night at the North Highlands-Antelope Library, and I thought, ‘Well, that’ll go over like a lead balloon!’ Lo and behold, she’d get 25 people who would show up and do open mic. That’s the kind of person she was.”
Clark worked to make libraries a more welcoming space, Sass said, and during her time there the library developed an app for people who don’t speak.
“She had a great, compelling, charismatic personality, because she felt so deeply about the work that she did. We’re especially grateful for all she did for us, to raise our awareness as a library staff, on serving people with special needs,” Sass said. “She changed how we program for that particular audience.”
Sass said Clark’s death feels like losing a member of her family, and said it feels very personal to her and all of the public library staff.
“She was fierce,” said Sass. “She did not suffer fools, I would say. She knew what she wanted and she was very direct with people about making sure that staff felt comfortable and safe, that the services we offered really were ones that met the community’s needs.”
Sass said that Clark’s death is especially devastating because the library community does so much to keep their staff and the public safe.
“It’s such a violation,” Sass said. “Because we’ve done so much, and we are vigilant, and we are proactive. ... I feel like I let Amber down, but I know there’s not much I could have done.”
This Friday, the library system will hold an all-staff meeting with chaplains present to give staff a place to grieve together.
Clark’s death is still being actively investigated by the Sacramento Police Department.