November 21, 2017

Tammy Westergard | Movers & Shakers 2016 – Change Agents

Tammy Westergard

CURRENT POSITION

Director of Libraries, Jackson County Library District, Medford, OR

DEGREE

MLS, University of North Texas, Denton, 2014

FUN FACT

Westergard’s children were undergrads when she was getting her MLS; they taught her how to use Blackboard

FOLLOW

jclibraryservices (Facebook)

Photo ©2016 Shawn G. Henry

Intentional Advocate

In 2010, as deputy manager of the Carson City, NV, Office of Business Development, Tammy Westergard was exploring ideas for a property formerly occupied by the Nugget casino. At the same time, Carson City Library director Sara Jones was involved in a strategic planning process for a new downtown branch. The two joined forces, developing an ambitious public-private partnership for a 65,000 square foot library. Westergard, with no previous library experience, became deputy library director, simultaneously spearheading a $23 million capital campaign for the project.

Jones was a strong mentor, and her protégé learned quickly. But after a year, Westergard pointed out, “You know what? If you get hit by a Mack truck, I’m in charge here. And I don’t know a single thing about librarianship.” With that, Westergard began a distance MLS program, while helping to run the library, visioning the new branch, and more. “I was thrown into the absolute deepest end of the pool in terms of library management,” she says.

When Jones moved to become director of the Marin County Free Library, CA, Westergard couldn’t apply for the directorship—she was still earning her MLS—so she led a national search that appointed Sena Loyd, whom she had originally hired in 2012.

The building project was ultimately defeated. But Westergard had learned to navigate the grant-writing process from Jones and began building out projects for workforce development and technology that they had first prototyped for the new space. In addition to leading a 2014–19 strategic library plan that included commitments among Carson City’s Board of Supervisors, school district, and library Board of Trustees—the first codified and multijurisdictional, local strategic plan for education in the state of Nevada—Westergard helped secure both a large BTOP (Broadband Technology Opportunities Program) grant for a library computing center and an LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) Innovation Program grant to offer entry-level MT-1 advanced manufacturing certification, the first of its kind in a library and a crucial stepping stone for 21st-century manufacturing jobs. “Helping people level up their skills,” says Westergard, “moving them from where they are to where they need to go…[the library has] all the resources in the world to help people do that.” The first cohort of MT-1 certificate-holders graduated in fall 2015.

Two years out of library school, Westergard is currently director of the 15-branch Jackson County Library District, in a struggling region, and she intends to help it thrive. She may have been an “accidental librarian,” as she describes herself, but she’s now the library’s most intentional advocate.

This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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Comments

  1. Sara Jones says:

    Congratulations Tammy it’s well deserved lots more moving and shaking in your future can’t wait to see what’s next!

  2. Your the Gal, Tammy! Congrats! Your passion and excitement for the role of libraries is contagious!

  3. Tammy Westergard says:

    Thanks Sherry! Good stories spread don’t they?!! Thanks to you for all that you add to the Nevada journey.

  4. Marco Veyna-Reyes says:

    Tammy you are such a dedicated and hardworking professional. Your abilities highly benefit the patrons in your community. I too can’t wait to see what comes next!

  5. Kathlin Ray says:

    Tammy, I only now just saw this! I’m thrilled that you received this recognition. Congratulations!!