April 20, 2018

Heather Ketron | Movers & Shakers 2016 – Advocates

Heather Ketron


Branch Manager, Sterling Library,
Loudoun County Public Library, VA


MSLIS, Catholic University of America, 2006; MS, Education, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, 1994



Photo by Ken Pham

Life-Brary Leader

In 2013, when Heather Ketron became branch manager at Sterling Library, Loudoun County Public Library, she visited the local schools. “Everyone who worked in the [school] office spoke Spanish,” she says, because most residents were Latin American immigrants. So Ketron hired a Spanish-speaking staff member.

She immediately began to address the community’s needs—70 percent are minorities and over 60 percent live in poverty. She partnered with INMED Partnerships for Children, a local nonprofit, assisting at its weekly parent education workshops that focus on literacy and life skills and conducting similar family programs at the library. In 2015, Ketron worked to bring the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program to Sterling; it was the only such site in northern Virginia. The library’s program provided more than 1,500 free lunches, five days a week over eight weeks. Ketron and her staff taught the children—as well as many parents—about nutrition, gardening, and more.

When Ketron discovered that only fee-based citizenship classes were available in the community, she contacted This Land Is Your Land (TLYL), another nonprofit. Now TLYL will be delivering free bilingual immigration classes at the library. This coming fall, the library will move to a new building, and Ketron’s thinking ahead. “We may not check out a gazillion books, but we do spend plenty of time helping…people…. This is about life; it’s a life-brary!”

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