RCLF Staff Spotlight: Executive Director Rouslana Yaroslavsky
Rouslana Yaroslavsky has been Executive Director of the Redwood City Library Foundation (RCLF) since 2015. She was born in southern Russia but moved to Moscow at age 11, where she was raised by her grandparents, who were both pilots during World War II. She graduated from Moscow State University as a history teacher and received a PhD from the Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Science.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Rouslana had to find new employment and secured a position setting up an airline cargo department in Pakistan. She described the 18 months she spent there as “the most transformational experience in my life.” She lived in Karachi in the middle of a coup d’etat with no working phone, tanks on the streets, military confrontations during the night, and a transfer of power that was not peaceful. After Pakistan, Rouslana worked around the globe in places such as the Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Spain, Italy, and Thailand.
Rouslana met her husband when she was 15 and married him 16 years later. After they moved to Redwood Shores, she started a project management company and joined the Redwood City Chamber of Commerce in 2002. She joined the Redwood City Library Foundation board to raise funds for the Redwood Shores branch and remained to raise funds for the Interpretive Center, the Fair Oaks Library book collection, and other projects. She became RCLF interim executive director in June of 2015 and permanent director in October of that same year.
Rouslana said that “the library was instrumental to my experience as an immigrant. I found the information I was looking for, community support I was missing, and purpose in the library. It provided a welcoming sense of belonging at a time of uncertainty and change.” Her belief in the power of the library was sparked by her very different experience in Russia. She said that in Lenin’s Library in Moscow, patrons needed a valid and documented reason to access library resources; the librarian’s job was to limit research, rather than assist it.
Rouslana appreciates that her children (ages 11 and 13) have free library access with librarians who help, not hinder. Our libraries represent a complete mindshift from what she saw in Russia, and Rouslana gives back to them through RCLF.
The Library Foundation is very grateful for Rouslana’s dedication to libraries.