Oscar Grady Library’s Director Jen Gerber
Jen Gerber, who holds a degree in History from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (1998), Certification in Library and Information Science (2003), as well as Certification in Public Library Administration (2010) from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has been the Oscar Grady Public Library Director since 2010.
She follows a long record of service surrounding not only libraries but also community related services, both as an employee and as a volunteer for several state and national organizations. Currently, Jen serves on the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) as the elected Treasurer of the state board; in addition, she serves as Chair of the state Finance Committee, the WLA Personnel Committee, as well as on the WLA Executive Committee. In addition to state volunteer work, Jen has been appointed by the County Board to serve on its Library Planning Committee (a committee that evaluates library services and funding over the next five years) and was recognized by Ozaukee County through their Emerging Leaders Program in 2013.
Since the beginning of her employment at the Oscar Grady Public Library in Saukville, Jen has found an abundance of positive things about this community and the Library’s staff, a group she considers an excellent resource for our services and for our patrons; working in an environment she makes sure is considered a second home, not only for the patrons, but also for the staff who she refers to as a family.
Taking a moment from her busy schedule, Jen answered a few questions we (the staff) have for her, in order to share a little more about her presence at the Oscar Grady Public Library and her goals for the present and her vision for the future of the organization.
After a long road walked, surrounded by books, including former employment at other libraries in Ozaukee County, book stores, and publishing houses, life finds you at the Oscar Grady Public Library in Saukville. Can you tell us what brought you to this community?
I’ve always wanted to be a librarian, and I guess that “long walk” was my way getting there. Throughout my career in other libraries within the County I’ve learned the inner-workings and policies and practices of their Boards and Directors in other municipalities, which had really prepared me for the kind of manager I wanted to be here in Saukville and how I wanted this Library to represent its community. I also had the wonderful opportunity to work for the company Barnes & Noble; I learned so much there in how to appreciate and study what the public was looking for and varying reading interests; Barnes & Noble taught me the detail and love of Collection Development, something I consider an art in the Library world.
Looking at your Resume, one can see a long passion (and commitment) to library services. Can you tell us a little more about where this dedication comes from?
I not only work in a Library, I volunteer in libraries. I volunteer at the local level, county level and with the state. I am passionate about libraries and motivated by maintaining literate communities. And by literate communities I don’t just mean “well-read”. Libraries have the opportunity to submerge communities in popular and world culture through books, media such as film, music and audio; current events and world views via newspapers and magazines; and of course history and the classics of literature. I am dedicated to maintaining that for our community.
Hearing you speak about the Oscar Grady Public Library, a sense of attachment to the place is rapidly perceived. What makes this place such a special place to be?
The staff. The staff at the Oscar Grady Public Library is what makes this place so special; whether they are conducting one of a kind events and story times or simply assisting patrons find their favorite authors, the library staff is patient, warm, kind, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with; I am extremely lucky to be able to work with the people I do.
As technologies keep changing the way we receive and process information, something that libraries have always played a big role in; how do you see the Oscar Grady Public Library’s future and its role in the community?
I not only see the Oscar Grady Public Library changing with current technologies, but actually being ahead of the information technology process. The Library is always busy researching new innovative ideas to play a large tech role in this community. Just this year, our Library added the Digital Media Conversion Lab, which was the first technology lab of its kind in the state of Wisconsin; a high-functioning digital space and work room equipped with the necessary digital mechanics to process aging film and photographic formats.
I expect this Library and our community to be ahead of changing technologies.
And last, a true myth is that to work in a Library you have to love books, so what are the books Jen Gerber would recommend from the Oscar Grady Library collection?
Well this is my favorite question so far! Can I give a top ten? I think I will answer with not only books, but also other forms of media (music and film), if that is acceptable? I’ll answer with my favorites from our Library’s collection.
1-(Book) The Pleasure of My Company -Steve Martin
2-(Book) And Then There Were None -Agatha Christie
3-(Book) Wuthering Heights -Emily Bronte
4-(Book) Looking For Alaska -John Green
5-(Book) Lolita -Vladimir Nabokov
6-(Music) Grace -Jeff Buckley
7-(Film/TV) Buffy the Vampire Slayer –Television Show
8-(Film/TV) Poirot –Television Show PBS
9-(Film) Picnic at Hanging Rock