News: Neillsville - Gustavson Leaves Public Library (Nov 2015)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Gustavson, Wegner, Quicker, Gaier, Poeschel, Barlow, Mayer, Venne, Cords
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 11/11/2015
Gustavson Leaves Neillsville Public Library (November 2015)
Gustavson Leaves Director Position at Neillsville Public Library
Neillsville Public Library Director Jo Ann Gustavson (l) and children’s librarian Kathy Wegner review the Wisconsin Valley Library System interlibrary loan listings recently at the circulation desk. In 2014, total circulation was 51,501 at the Neillsville Public Library. Gustavson has taken a job in the Madison area, and will be leaving her library director position effective Friday, Nov. 13. Wegner, who has been employed at the library since 1991, will serve as interim director until a new person is hired. (Photo by Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press)
By Todd Schmidt
Jo Ann Gustavson, who has been director of the Neillsville Public Library since March 2001, is leaving the position effective Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. A farewell reception will be held in her honor Thursday, Nov. 12, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the library.
President Jerry Quicker has been a member of the library board for four years. He said Thursday Gustavson had mentioned a career switch about a year ago.
“We saw this coming,” Quicker said. “She has limited vision and needs to be in a place with access to public bus transportation. She is a proud person and hates to be dependent on others for rides.”
Quicker said the library board appreciates the dedication Gustavson has brought to the job.
“Jo Ann has done an excellent job running the library,” Quicker said. “She has been instrumental bringing in outside specialists with various topics and led the switch to the new computerized system.”
Children’s librarian Kathy Wegner will serve as interim director until a new director is hired. The library board and the Neillsville City Council approved a $2 per hour wage increase for Wegner while she serves as interim director.
The position has been advertised for several weeks; with an application deadline of Nov. 30. The application form is available on the city of Neillsville website.
Library board members John Gaier, Kory Poeschel and Quicker comprise the interview committee. The person hired will eventually have to obtain certification as a library director.
“We will set up interviews right after the application deadline,” Quicker said. “We would like to get someone on board as soon as possible, hopefully by Jan. 1, 2016.
Gustavson said Friday she had accepted a position as a receptionist at Top Promotions in Middleton. The company does screen printing, embroidery and logo printing.
Gustavson is legally blind. She contracted spinal meningitis when she was age 2, which caused damage to her optic nerve.
She said Top Promotions strives to hire visually impaired employees.
“I am confident that I will fit right in, using the adaptive equipment they have available,” she said.
Gustavson sought other library director positions, but nothing panned out. Like many other things in her life, she saw an opportunity and decided to go for it.
“The main reason I am leaving is transportation,” she said. “Getting around in Neillsville is not a problem, with the taxi service and friends.”
Family members or friends have to transport her to Wisconsin Rapids or Stevens Point to catch the Lamers Bus Line.
“Schedules are a challenge,” she said. “Driving in the winter is also a big issue. Living in Madison, the Madison Metro bus service is awesome.”
Gustavson graduated from Kewaunee High School in 1980. She moved on to Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, obtaining an associate degree in accounting in 1983.
She and her husband, Richard Gustavson, Jr., moved to Neillsville in 1984. She was employed as a library aide for the School District of Greenwood from 1989 to 1997.
In 1994, Gustavson embarked on an individualized major program at UW-Superior, 90 percent of which was online course work. Six years later, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in business, English and library science.
Gustavson worked part-time jobs at Figi’s in Marshfield, Hansen’s IGA in Neillsville, and as a library aide for the Granton Area School District before she was hired a director of the Neillsville Public Library.
She followed up with classes through the Department of Public Instruction, including reference, public library administration, and collection development and budgeting. She obtained a Grade 3 Certification to be employed as a library director.
Gustavson then decided to pursue a master’s degree in library and information science through UW-Milwaukee. She graduated in 2004, obtaining a Grade 1 Certification as a library director.
She plans to keep up her continuing education and Grade 1 Certification for the next five years.
Gustavson participated in Tai Kwando for nine years, stopping just short of getting her 1st degree black belt. She has also gone sky diving at Lake Wissota and zip lining in the Caribbean.
“I like to do things that get me out of my comfort zone,” she said.
During her tenure at Neillsville, Gustavson said the library foundation has been a wonderful partner.
“They enhance the functions of the library, making it a wonderful addition to the community,” she said. “People of all ages and ethnicities use the library for many different things.”
Gustavson said on any given day patrons use the four computer stations to send email, submit job applications and stay in touch with family and friends. Another computer is set u0p strictly for word processing.
Patrons check out DVDs and books (regular or large print), books on CDs and VCR tapes. Others enjoy personal time reading some of the five newspapers and 72 magazines the library subscribes to. A small adult book club meets during the school year.
Gustavson said the foundation purchased a CD repair and cleaner system, obtained padded folding chairs and funded the digital microfilm reader and computer. The foundation also supplied many of the books, DVDs and CDs available for checkout.
The foundation recently purchased a combined copier, scanner, printer and fax unit, Gustavson said. The foundation sponsors the summer reading program for children, which features performers and craft days at various times from June through August. It also supported a series of interesting guest speakers and arranged for a visit by the moon rock exhibit in 2013.
Gustavson touts the library’s membership in the seven-county Wisconsin Valley Library Service (WVLS). The Neillsville library joined WVLS in 2011. Libraries in Clark, Forest, Lincoln, Langlade, Oneida, Marathon and Taylor counties belong to the WVLS group.
Gustavson sees the use of interlibrary loan items growing. She noted people could download digital books on Kindles and other tablet systems.
“I don’t think that will affect circulation too much,” Gustavson said. “Many folks still want to hold a book in their hands and be able to turn the pages.”
In 2011, Gustavson led a six-month effort to join the system catalog with WVLS. “It was a huge undertaking,” Gustavson said. “The staff had to re-barcode everything to ensure there was no duplication of records.”
In the future, Gustavson sees the need to expand library shelf space. She said changes would likely be made in the children’s section due to a substantial donation being made.
“The library board is very open to suggestions,” she said. “If things need to be done, and we can afford it, they find a way to do it.”
Four staffers in addition to the director manage the day-to-day circulation desk operations at the Neillsville Public Library. They are: Kathy Wegner, Fran Barlow, Leanne Mayer and Karen Venne. Bob Cords is the custodian.
“The library is open 44 hours per week,” Gustavson noted. “Some of the part-time employees are limited in the number of hours they can put in so the city doesn’t have to pay into the state retirement system for them.”
In 2014, total circulation was 51,501. The total operating expenses last year was $133,597. Neillsville’s cost per circulation was $2.59, which was the lowest of all 10 public libraries in Clark County.
The Neillsville Public Library is open Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.
Wegner, who started as a substitute in 1991 and became the children’s librarian in 2000, wants to make sure the public knows the story hour cancelled Friday due to the power outage will be made up Friday, Nov. 13, from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Gustavson said there were many reasons why she is sad to leave her position at the Neillsville Public Library.
“The staff is wonderful, and I have made so many friends here,” she said. “I will also be moving a greater distance away from my granddaughter, who lives in Altoona.”
In wrapping up the interview, Gustavson shared a favorite story about her son, Chester, who was a high school senior when the family moved to Neillsville. “He used to call the library and ask, ‘is the blind librarian there,’” she said with a smile.
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