February 17, 2018

Lisa Poignant | Movers & Shakers 2005

Natural Born Leader


Few people become library directors by accident. Four years ago, Lisa Poignant was laid off from her job as a supervisor at a sprinkler factory when she saw an ad for the directorship of Chillicothe Public Library District. She got an offer three days after the interview.

The timing was just right for the library, which serves 13,250 people in and around Chillicothe, a rural town struggling with poverty. Without a director for months, the library was launching a referendum for a new $4.4 million building. With Poignant on board, they raised over $500,000 in less than ten months. The $3.95 million referendum passed on the first try, and the 30,000 square foot building is complete.

What’s going on inside the building is just as impressive – and it’s all focused on the user. “We open the doors at 7 a.m. to accommodate all the commuters to Peoria and shift workers at odd times,” Poignant says. “We’re here for the community, not for our convenience.”

She’s also developed excellent programming, including a grant-supported author project coordinated with 11 neighboring libraries. Tag-teaming allows the libraries to recruit popular authors, who come to the area for a week. Talk about bang for the buck!

Propelling Poignant through the learning curve of directorship has been the MLIS program. She uses the classes well. “In the marketing class, I developed the library’s long-range plan. In an acquisitions class, I developed a new collection development policy.” Ever pragmatic, Poignant is happy when “real work” comes from classes.

What began as an accident turned out to be a boon – for the library and Poignant as well.



Current Position Director, Chillicothe Public Library District, IL

Degree MLIS student, Dominican University

Hobby Belly dancing

Blog The Diva Librarian (www.divalib.blogspot.com)