Emily Williston Memorial Library & Museum, Easthampton, MA
DEGREE MLS, University at Albany, SUNY, 2003
Pleases her staff by taking to the kitchen when under stress
Photo by Anna Mickelsen
Full Steam Ahead
In her first 18 months as director of the small Emily Williston Memorial Library & Museum, Kristi Chadwick upgraded patron and staff computers and Wi-Fi, restored Saturday hours, weeded stagnant collections, added drop-in technology tutoring, and increased outreach, all to improve users’ experiences.
Her patron-centered focus led to increased foot traffic: patrons average 400 more visits each month since the library reopened on Saturdays. Circulation began to edge up as well (by 14.2 percent), and ebook borrowing took an almost 70 percent leap.
Besides limited resources, a challenge at many small libraries, shortly before Chadwick arrived Williston had weathered accusations of sexual harassment leveled by the former director at a board member. The board addressed community concerns, says Chadwick. She concentrated on the library’s future. “There is no one more capable of bringing the heart of the library back to the community than Kristi,” says Kaite Stover, director of readers’ services at Kansas City Public Library, MO, and a 2003 Mover & Shaker.
Chadwick led the first strategic planning efforts in 16 years, obtained a $15,000 challenge grant for a mobile laptop lab, and acquired the first staff pay increase in four years. She also helped rekindle the Friends of the Library, worked on the shift to an open source ILS, and collaborated with three neighboring libraries for a four-community-wide read.
“The community definitely loves the library but has been static in its support for a while,” says Chadwick, who also finds the time to review and write articles for LJ. (She was recently named an LJ Reviewer of the Year.) “My approach was to revamp outreach and work on getting our name and information [out to]…those who may not have been stopping by.” She’s well on her way.