Every so often I tend to reflect on my library journey on this blog — especially when I’m making a big change or recognizing a work anniversary. Yesterday marked five years since I began as Director of the Oskaloosa Public Library
, and today marked two years since I left that position to move back to Lawrence. I remember how nervous and excited I was my first day at OPL — meeting the staff, touring the building, learning the ropes, still wondering if I was really director material. It wasn’t until a few weeks in, after the first staff meeting when my administrative assistant said to me that it was one of the most productive meetings they’ve had in a number of years that I felt confident that I could actually do the job.
And what a beautiful library! Originally built in 1903, the Carnegie building was expanded in 1997 to twice its size. The architects designed the expansion with brick and woodwork that matched the original building. High ceilings, ornate wood columns, a glorious grandfather clock, a reading garden, and a director’s office to die for!
I like to describe my experience in Oskaloosa as the Goldilocks of library directorships. The library wasn’t so large that I was too bogged down with administrative work to be able to do “librarian” things like work the reference desk, select and order materials, put together displays, and teach computer classes. And it wasn’t so small that I wouldn’t have had the resources to plan some of the fun programming and events that we did.From managing staff to working with the board of trustees and city council to overseeing the maintenance of the building and grounds, I was challenged with new responsibilities and situations that only helped me grow. My absolute favorite part of the job was planning events like Teen Tech Week
, summer reading programs
, a one community, one book program called Mahaska Reads
, zombie crawls
, and a presentation on prohibition paired with a beer tasting
Looking back now, it almost seems like a dream. As time goes on, I know the three years will just be a blip on my library career, but they had a major impact. Though I’m happy and thrilled to be back in Lawrence, I do miss the staff at OPL, the patrons that I got to know, and the beautiful library. I will always appreciate the experience and opportunity I got there.