February 17, 2018

Jeanne Holba Puacz | Movers & Shakers 2003

Discover the Possibilities

Emblazoned across the top of the web site that Jeanne Holba Puacz built for the Vigo County Public Library, you’ll see “Discover the Possibilities.” It might just as well serve as the motto for Puacz’s adventures in librarianship. In the past she has worked in school, corporate, and academic libraries but now loves doing reference at the public library “because it is so varied and unpredictable.”

Puacz found the potential to fulfill traditional library goals using new technology as library webmaster. Special collections librarians had already begun indexing local obituaries. Without spending a lot of money, Puacz saw the chance to make her library’s unique, fragile historical holdings widely available by having them indexed on built-in database software. Then she simply saved one version in HTML and mounted it on their server and then publicized the service on search engines and Vigo County – related web pages. Talk about filling an unmet need: the database served more than 11,000 users in the first four months it was available. Now the staff is working to add cemetery and marriage records and planning to digitize 15,000 pages of local history manuscripts.

Puacz also saw the web site as an excellent public relations vehicle. Offer unique services on your web page, she tells librarians, and you can turn its users into regular library patrons. All her Internet training classes begin on the library’s homepage, so that she can show users the services available from home – the online catalog and databases, the local history resources, the online book club, and the “Ask a Librarian” service.

Puacz developed the training programs because at the reference desk she encountered users who still were intimidated by the Internet. She worked with a local retirement village and a library branch in a mall frequented by mallwalkers to develop a program just for seniors, who were more comfortable asking questions when computer-savvy youngsters weren’t around.

Like any librarian, Puacz is never happy just knowing something; she has to share it. That’s why she speaks at conferences, writes articles for professional publications, and teaches reference in the summer at Indiana University’s School of Library and Information Science. She has discovered a number of possibilities already. But she is always in the market for more.


Current Position: Systems and Reference Librarian, Vigo County Public Library, Terre Haute, IN

Degree: MLS, University of Illinois, 1992

Library Web Site: www.vigo.lib.in.us/default.asp