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Library Director Celebrates 30 Years Of Service



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Library Director Celebrates 30 Years Of Service

By Nancy K. Crevier

On December 1, Janet Woycik celebrated not only her birthday, but also the 30th anniversary of her position as director of the C.H. Booth Library. And after three decades at the helm of what has become a community gathering place, Ms Woycik said that she is just as excited to come to work each day as she was on that first day, December 1, 1981.

“I’ve liked this job for the last 30 years,” she said. “The building is beautiful, the staff is remarkable. I like going to work,” said Ms Woycik.

She has overseen significant changes during that time, of which she is proud. Most notable, is the expansion of the library in 1998, which enabled the library to add a separate children’s department and a meeting room, as well as expanding the circulation and reference spaces.

“Thirty years ago,” recalled Ms Woycik, Tuesday, November 28, “I had a staff of just three other people. We had one or two story hours a week, and I believe we now offer at least 12. We had adult programming, but not to the extent we do now. The meeting room has given us the ability to offer many more programs, both those scheduled by librarian Kim Weber, and those sponsored by outside groups that rent our facility,” she said. The library has since hired its first young adult librarian, Margaret Brown, noted Ms Woycik, “who leads the Young Adult Council of about 40 young people, and does all kinds of wonderful things.”

The youth and children’s programs, especially, have taken huge strides during the past 30 years, said Ms Woycik. “I have a wonderful staff working here, and we listen to what the community wants. We are driven now more by our patrons. They are much more savvy about what’s out there, and what their needs are,” she said.

The really nice thing is the positive feedback she has received from residents. “You never hear anyone complaining about having a ‘bad’ library. There’s always something going on here,” said Ms Woycik.

Hearing what staff and patrons desire has been one of her biggest strengths throughout the years, said Ms Woycik. “The patrons who come here are awesome. I spend a part of every single day out front, talking to people, and talking to each department heads. We hold monthly staff meetings, too, which give everyone a chance to know what each other is doing. Otherwise, everyone is so busy, we don’t have time to run around and find out,” she said.

The staff, all of whom are people she has hired at this point, now consists of nearly 24 full- and part-time people. “We need that many. We are open 64 hours a week,” she said, “which is quite a few more hours than when I started.”

She has constantly been on the lookout for ways that will make the library function more smoothly for both staff and patrons, she said, not the least of which has been technology.

The library went from hand stamping books for check out, card catalogs, and overdue postcards mailed out each week to a streamlined business using new technology. “We started out by becoming part of the statewide Bibliomation consortium, for computerized circulation, and just this past year switched to the newer Evergreen technology to do so. We have a website now, of course, e-mail, many ways for our patrons to be connected through computer technology, and hope to soon have an extensive collection of downloadable books and downloadable music,” she said. Embracing technological changes that enhance services has not been difficult for either herself or the staff, said Ms Woycik. “The changes have been greatest in recent years, but it all makes for a better library,” she said.

Learning what works best for the library has been an ongoing process since day one, said Ms Woycik. She had only been the children’s librarian for six months when the position of director opened up. It was a big step. “I knew when I got the job that I needed to know more than I knew,” she claimed. So she has made it a point to network with other library directors across the state, and became involved in the American Library Association, the Connecticut Library Association, and even the Housatonic Valley Library Association, a group of just half a dozen area librarians. “We still meet, and we still learn from each other. It is great that today we can e-mail each other, all at one time, to survey what we are doing, what problems we are solving. You don’t feel so alone out there today [with this access to technology],” she said.

The downside of embracing technological developments, though, said Ms Woycik, is the cost. “All of that nice technology costs money,” she pointed out. The great support of the Friends of the C.H. Booth Library has helped the library keep pace with the times, though, she said. Along with fundraising and private donations, the library has been able to purchase “extras” and present programs that the town-funded library otherwise might not be able to support.

Strategic planning and implementation were at the top of her list when she took on the role of director, Ms Woycik said. “That is how we got the addition to the library, I believe, and the elevator,” she said, as well as the computers and systems that are crucial to a modern library.

She has utilized her management skills, and worked to recognize trends and needs that ultimately benefit the citizens of Newtown, she said. Juggling staff, physical issues with the building, and the patrons — and continuing to pay homage to library benefactress Mary Hawley — has been an act she feels that she has mastered.

The 30 years have passed quickly, and she is pleased with where she finds herself today. “It’s a lot of hours, but that’s okay. I would love to have more time to actually read — I probably get through only about one book a month — and some day, it would be nice to have more time to spend with my grandchildren and to travel. I would love to be able to volunteer more in this community that has given me so much in this position,” she said. “But that,” she laughed, “might not be for another 30 years.”

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