What is your biggest challenge?

Obviously, fundraising. We’ve had several years of a deficit that we’ve been trying to fix. Part of reason why we have such a large deficit is … (we no longer have contracts with) Farmingdale, Chelsea and Manchester. We’re trying harder to manage our spending, not that we overspend or anything like that. Right now, we’re surviving, but we’re getting better. I think the contracts were the hardest hit. It’s unlikely that we’re going to get them back. I know Chelsea was discussing rejoining us, but nothing came of that. Farmingdale is locked into a contract with Gardiner.

What is the most important less you have learned?

We’re not just books here. (I’ve learned that) adapting to what people want outside of books (is successful). We have people saying (the programming) was fantastic this month, what are you doing next month? You just have to keep going. Even if you have (a program) that no one shows up to, that doesn’t mean it’s a flop. It’s trying new things, sometimes they flop and sometimes they work really well. We’ve had more people in November than we’ve had in the last two years that I have record of. Every month we’re topping things. How do I keep this up? You have to get creative and it’s not just book clubs. It’s looking outside of the four walls.

How do you foster creativity in your staff?

There’s only four of us here, so you can’t do anything without consulting them. I’m only one person and I rely heavily on this staff. Sometimes, you’ll just have that moment. It just snowballs and you get branches and it builds off and we work so well together. I don’t know what we would be without the staff doing the amazing feats that they do.

We have staff meetings every month. I have stuff already planned for next year. We’re already planning the Bicentennial program, which leads to the Summer Reading Program. It’s figuring out what works with those individual teams. You just brainstorm. I have 10 years (experience) of working with teens in New York, talk about creativity.

 

What is your biggest fear or concern?

I have more than one. It’s the library falling apart faster than we can fix. We recently had some ceiling fall (actual building parts falling). When I took over as interim director a year ago, it started off with the oil burners breaking down within a week and fumes in the building. From there, to this year, parts of the ceiling fell and we’re still here. There’s so much community support when things go wrong. I’ve slowly gotten over that fear.

My other fear and concern is obviously city funding. We are in a deficit, I sound like a broken record. There’s just so much momentum (with donors this year). I believe we’re at 60% of our annual fund already raised.

How do you navigate the changing conditions in your industry?

I applied for the Academy for Small Rural Public Library Directors. It’s run by the Maine State Library. That is helping me educate myself on what’s going on in the state of Maine. There’s been such a high turnover rate with library directors that there was such a need for (the academy).

(The academy) provides better education on what’s working in the libraries and what isn’t working. Like Dinovember (a program based around dinosaurs in the month of November) was successful for me, but it might not be successful with someone else. Because we are the first group of people (in the academy), we’re basically forming a new Bible, if you will, for library directors. Going forward, we’re hoping that retention rates will increase. There are so many tools out there that Maine State offers that people don’t know about.

Library directors aren’t lasting for more than three years in their positions, for various reasons. Part of it is not being aware of what’s expected and (relationships) with all types of organizations.

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