WATERVILLE — Helping people discover and deepen their passions is part of what librarian Tammy Rabideau strives to do daily at the Waterville Public Library.

As the coordinator of the Business, Career and Creativity Center, Rabideau, who spent years in academic libraries before taking the position at the Waterville library, connects visitors of the library with area job resources. She has also been an organizer behind community events such as the Maine Poetry Express and PechaKucha Night Waterville.

She is the recipient of this year’s Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Professional award, which recognizes a chamber member with a professional certification for giving back to the community.

“She had a lot of people who nominated her,” said Kim Lindlof, president and chief executive officer of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce. “It wasn’t just her colleagues at the library, but different people from around the community, and it convinced us that she should be the recipient.”

Rabideau, 41, grew up in the upstate New York town of Mooers.

“I was very extroverted and never thought of libraries as a place that I would work at,” she said. “I was always an avid library user, but sort of on my own terms. I would go in and get what I needed and be on my way. It was sort of a personal revelation to find my passion in libraries.”

After attending Skidmore College, Rabideau thought she would apply to law school but changed her mind after completing a field placement in the New York state legislature.

She took a waitressing job and would often visit the Glens Falls library on her break. “It was a split shift and the break wasn’t really long enough to do anything with, but long enough to do something,” she said. “So I would go to the public library to entertain myself.”

It was there that she decided to go to library school. “I saw it as a way to do sneaky outreach,” Rabideau said. “A lot of people have negative connotations they associate with social services, but they don’t have that association with public libraries. They’re very uplifting, positive places to be associated with.”

While working on her master’s degree, Rabideau took a job at the Skidmore library. From there she went on to work at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., where she met her husband, John Turner, who is now a professor teaching Middle East history at Colby College in Waterville.

The two relocated to Pennsylvania after Rabideau was recruited to be the digital services coordinator for Swathmore College libraries. They also lived in Atlanta, where Rabideau worked at the Georgia Institute of Technology, before moving to Maine in 2006 for Turner’s position at Colby.

Around the same time the couple had their first child, Leila Renee, who was born prematurely and with complications, prompting Rabideau to take time off of work to be a full-time mom.

“I was burnt out of academic librarianship because it wasn’t really the right fit,” Rabideau said. But a few years later, after the birth of their second child, she saw a posting for a part-time job at the Waterville Public Library’s career center.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s my sneaky outreach,’ which is what I got into librarianship intending to do in the first place,” she said. Now Rabideau has been at the library for five years and is the coordinator of the Business, Career & Creativity Center.

“Tammy gives back to the community each and every day,” said Sarah Sugden, director of the Waterville Public Library. “She is committed to helping our region grow and prosper and is determined to help each person reach his or her fullest potential. Tammy is involved with a number of community projects and each benefits from her great passion and commitment to the community.”

In addition to her role as coordinator of the career center, Rabideau is also a founding board member of Waterville Creates! and the co-founder of PechaKucha Night Waterville, a series of short image-driven presentations on topics of a presenter’s choosing.

“We have incredibly passionate fellow professionals in Waterville and by pooling resources we can solve problems and find creative solutions,” Rabideau said. “I find that very rewarding, that we can more effectively serve the community by pooling all our resources and talents.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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