November 24, 2017

Laura Kasak | Movers & Shakers 2010 – Community Builders

Library Journal March 15, 2010: Laura Kasak, Mover & Shaker

Transformer

If the Florissant Valley Branch Library of the St. Louis County Library (SLCL) ever needs a motto, “change is good” would be apt. Florissant Valley has seen a 40 percent increase in usage—and a 26 percent rise in circulation—since Laura Kasak took the helm in July 2008.

Among other steps, Kasak replaced the oversized (and intimidating) reference desk with a smaller, more centralized one and carved out more space for the children’s collection and a new teen center. “Under her leadership,” says nominator Tim Wadham, assistant director of youth and community services for SLCL, the branch “has been totally transformed in a relatively short period of time from a building stuck in the outdated, traditional model of a library to a vibrant, energetic, inviting branch that is meeting customer needs better than ever.”

The trilingual Kasak also has made a concentrated effort to reach out to Spanish speakers. “Although we had an excellent Spanish collection for children and adults and I was planning programming, I realized that none of these efforts would be successful if no one knew they existed,” she says. She instituted deposit collections around the community and worked with local priests to speak about library services after Spanish mass. People were always curious, so I would really push how easy it was to get a library card and how friendly and excited to serve them my staff was.”

Because of these successes, Kasak’s branch was chosen to test-run a countywide RFID implementation. “In promoting self-check for simple transactions, we are essentially allowing our front-line staff to answer more complex questions and to be available whenever and wherever our customers need their assistance,” says Kasak. Nearly 40 percent of branch patrons now use the self-checkout.

Wadham notes that Kasak doesn’t spring changes on her staff but instead spends a great deal of time briefing them on their evolving roles. The impact is clear, says Wadham. “The thought and energy that Laura puts into each aspect of her work is also evident when customers walk into a completely transformed branch library.”

Vitals

Laura Kasak, Florissant Valley Branch, St. Louis County Library

CURRENT POSITION Branch Manager

DEGREE MLIS, Dominican University, 2005

TRILINGUAL In Spanish, French, and English

Share