Thank you to Senator Patty Ritchie for honoring me as a “2018 Woman of Distinction” at a recent reception at the Riveredge Resort in Alexandria Bay. Senator Ritchie has always been a library supporter, and those of us in the library community are grateful for the impact she has had on our local public libraries.
According to Senator Ritchie’s website, the “Women of Distinction” program honors distinguished women from our region and throughout the Empire State who have been trailblazers in business, academics and civic life, as well as those who have performed heroic or selfless acts, or have personally excelled against difficult odds.
I’ve always been an active library supporter, and as a child had at least a dozen library cards for various local libraries – this was before libraries became automated and the sharing of library resources as part of a consortium became the norm. While attending University many years ago, I never anticipated a career in public libraries, and graduated with a degree in a totally unrelated field of study. After being in the workforce for ten years, I became a stay-at-home mother for fourteen years, collaborating with my husband to further public education in the area of open source software, developing and maintaining websites related to OS/2 and later Linux, and working closely with him to run our home-based software business. My husband passed away at age 45, necessitating my return to the workforce full-time in order to support myself and our teenage daughter.
In 2009, I was volunteering at the Ogdensburg Public Library when two staff members handed me a job announcement from the Ogdensburg Journal and encouraged me to apply. Sincerest thanks to Ann Knowlton and Julie Gebo for pushing me into the path of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon! I worked part-time at the library in Lisbon for about a year as the assistant and then applied for the position of Director in October 2010. Thank you to the library’s Board of Trustees – Barbara Shoemaker, Jo Skiff, Carroll Roy, Sheri Dawley, and the late Betty Smith – for taking a chance on me and promoting me to Director.
In 2013, Emily Hastings, the Director of the Canton Free Library, asked if I would be willing to pick up a few extra hours as a clerk at the circulation desk in the children’s room. It started as a six-week position while another staff member was on medical leave. Well, it’s been almost five years now – I’ve become a permanent employee, doubled my hours, and taken on more responsibility. CFL has become my second home-away-from-home.
In the fall of 2016, I was selected to be a Trustee for the Ogdensburg Public Library. A few months later, I took on the role of Secretary and have had the pleasure of working closely with Penny Kerfien, the Executive Director, as well as the rest of the library board. Involvement with three libraries in such close proximity is very rewarding on a personal level.
In January 2017, I approached Bill Shumway, the editor of North Country Now, to write a column dedicated to library advocacy. “Check Us Out” was born, and I have Bill Shumway and Andy Gardner to thank for making sure each article gets published.
Last year, I was awarded the 2017 Outstanding Library Advocate award from the North Country Library System. Within NCLS, I serve on several committees and I am the Secretary of the Library Director’s Organization. With sixty-five libraries in our system, it’s inspiring to see what everyone else is doing, and to work together to provide library services across not only St. Lawrence County, but a four-county region.
I love my job, I love the things that I do to support libraries here in St. Lawrence County. Thank you to my current library board of trustees for having faith in me and empowering me to provide library service to our Lisbon community: Barbara Shoemaker, David Walker, Angela Martin, Andrea Mericle, Joyce Flack, and Carol Smith. Thank you to Malcolm Casselman for being such a hard-working assistant, to Scott Skiff for maintaining the building, and to the Lisbon Town Board for providing the funding necessary for the books, programs, and services our library offers.
Thank you also to the folks at the Canton Free Library, the Ogdensburg Public Library, the North Country Library System, and the rest of the libraries in NCLS. Thank you to my daughter, Abigail McLagan, for being my biggest cheerleader. Thank you to every person who uses or supports libraries in their community – I’ve met some incredible people along the way.
Finally, thank you to Senator Ritchie for being a champion for women and for honoring me as a 2018 Woman of Distinction.