Filling Some Holes

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My “new” job as interim Library Administrator at KML has been a real learning experience. I was asked if I would step in to support the library staff by “filling some holes” until a new library director is hired, to reduce some of the workload left to the regular staff after the director and associate director left.

I have been a library advocate for my entire adult life. Libraries are such uniquely democratic places in that they provide free programs and access to information to all. They help build community. They help preserve the past. Their existence indicates the extent to which our democratic society values truth, knowledge, justice, books and culture.

I thought I had a good handle on how our library functioned, but I was amazed at all the many moving parts that make the library work so well, and it’s primarily the staff who makes things look and operate so smoothly. They manage the mostly unseen tasks that keep the place running, like opening and closing the building, emptying the book drop three times a day and re-shelving borrowed books, manning the three main desks (circulation, reference and children’s), ordering and cataloging books and DVDs, planning and creating programming, monitoring the building, as we have six entrances/exits, and overseeing groups of middle school kids who descend on the library after school most afternoons bringing their enthusiasm and snacks. Considering our library has about 6,000 visitors a month, it’s a pretty big job.

Our library staff is a cohesive group of dynamic and dedicated people who want to support what libraries do – help children and adults find the resources they want, answer questions, provide a safe and welcoming place to meet, work and study, communicate with the public, run programs for varied ages and interests and help support the diverse needs of our community. And, I’m on board with all of that.

However, I’m not a librarian, so there are jobs that can only be filled by a library director. The director manages the budget, oversees staffing, writes grants, plans long-term, attends Library Commission and budget meetings, attends town activities, networks with other library directors, gathers and keeps library data and is the face of and advocate for the library. Hopefully we will be welcoming a new director soon.

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