February 17, 2018

Amanda McKeraghan | Movers & Shakers 2008

Rural Improvement

Amanda McKeraghan knew early on that she wanted to spend her life improving life in rural communities like the one in which she grew up. She just didn’t believe it when she was told she could do that as a librarian.

Having worked her way up in the Stevens County Rural Library District (SCRLD) from bookmobile driver to branch manager to director, now she knows it’s true: her eight small libraries serve 40,000 people, including an active Russian and Ukrainian community. They range from 4800 square feet down to a station inside a general store—and have an outsize impact in towns without “trendy bars, Internet cafés, youth centers, or other places that people gather after school and work.” Whitney Edwards, manager of Colville Public Library, a branch of SCRLD, says that because of McKeraghan’s work, “people in Stevens County view their libraries as their community hubs, their reference source, their connection to the Internet, their bus stop, their office, their living room even.”

Farmers, loggers, homeschool parents, and distance education students have purchased laptops because Stevens County libraries provide wireless high-speed Internet access. McKeraghan says her staff “knows our community [so] well, we bring people with common interests together, put businesses in touch with clients.” And, says Edwards, McKeraghan’s personal interest in each user has them “thinking that coming in the library was the best thing they did that day.”

The Stevens County wiki built by McKeraghan and Edwards has also become a hub of rural knowledge, as residents add restaurant listings, local history, genealogy, community events, and more. The wiki fulfills another goal: preserving and spreading rural wisdom, which McKeraghan believes adds a valuable perspective to discussions of public issues in America.

McKeraghan doesn’t just love rural communities. She makes them better.


CURRENT POSITION Director, Stevens County Rural Library District, Loon Lake, WA

DEGREE MLS, Emporia State University, 2000; M.A., Applied Anthropology, Rural Community Development, 1995

RADIO INTERVIEW www.radioopensource.org/passion-libraries

WIKI www.scrldwiki.org/index.php/Main_Page