News: Neillsville Public Library (Names New Director - 2016)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Hart, Gustavson, Wegner, Quicker, Mabie, Barlow, Mayer, Venne, Cords

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co, WI) 1/20/2016

Neillsville Public Library (Names New Director - 2016)

Hart Named Director of Neillsville Public Library

New Neillsville Public Library Director Cara Hart poses in the Library Thursday; Hart’s first day on the job was Monday. (Photo by Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press)

By Todd Schmidt

Cara Hart, 26, a 2008 Neillsville High School graduate, has been hired as the new director of the Neillsville Public Library (NPL). Hart began her duties Monday, Jan. 18.

Hart replaced Jo Ann Gustavson, who had been library director since March 2001. Gustavson resigned to take a receptionist position at Top Promotions in Madison.

Children’s librarian Kathy Wegner served as interim library director from Nov. 13, until Hart came on board.

NPL Board president Jerry Quicker said 11 applications were received for the library director position. Six telephone interviews were conducted, and three candidates were interviewed in person.

The library board recommended Hart as the new director to the city’s Personnel Committee, which forwarded Hart’s name to the Neillsville City Council Jan. 12 for the official hiring decision.

“This hiring sure seemed like a seamless process,” Mayor Steve Mabie said.

Quicker said any one of the three finalists would have done a fine job as library director. He said Hart stood out because of her bilingual ability and her enthusiasm for looking into new programming for the library.

Hart made time Thursday to sit down in the library and discuss her career and goals moving forward. In addition to her full-time library director position, Hart is working toward a Master’s degree in library science (May 2017) and is a fulltime mom to Cody, 8, and Rylen, 18 months. She and her husband Jason are expecting a baby girl, Arya, in May.

Jason currently works for Charter Communications out of Madison. The family is staying with his parents in rural Neillsville.

“This might be a sleepless year,” Hart smiled. “We will make it work. I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity to come home. This has been a goal, to become a library director within an hour of Neillsville.”

In 2011, Hart obtained a BS degree in Spanish education from UW-Stevens Point. She then taught Spanish for three years (grades 8-12) at Blair-Taylor High School.

“Dealing with students was most rewarding,” Hart said. “I will communicate with some of them. I plan to take a group of students (grades 10-12) to Spain this summer.”

Hart supervised under-graduates in an on-campus library, which is used by many future teachers. The experience fit Hart’s background very well.

She said the library board was looking for someone with fresh ideas in pre-teen content to compliment the strong children’s library offerings. Her thoughts include a bilingual story time for children, a combination book review, painting and root beer tasting event and services for patrons and businesses such as job searches, preparation of resumes and filling out employment applications.

Hart envisions offering a finals night with school supplies and books for students to use to improve study habits.

Before she interviewed for the library director’s position, Hart researched reports on the Neillsville Library’s circulation and budge.

“I got a really good impression,” Hart said. “Neillsville is ahead of many other communities with the same amount of budget. I am also impressed with the inventory of media, EBooks and print books available for patrons.”

Hart believes her community ties will prove to be an asset and an opportunity to develop partnerships.

During her school days in Neillsville, Hart was a library rat.

“I would check out books on an entire shelf,” she said. “I never lost one.”

Hart’s hobbies include reading, golfing, exercising, swimming, cake decorating, horseback riding and wine tasting.

A snapshot from her resume indicates she is “flexible, approachable, kind, adaptable, organized, goal-oriented and easy going.” She also likes challenges, noting she is a person that will never be bored.

Hart plans to continue the tradition of having a chocolate table in her office. She said it was a big hit with her students in Blair-Taylor and suspect’s staff and patrons in Neillsville will like it also.

Hart expects the transition to go smoothly at the NPL. Over time, policies will be updated in areas including patron behavior, EBook use and book challenges.

Three staffers in addition to Har and Wegner manage the day-to-day circulation desk operations at the NPL. They are Fran Barlow, Leanne Mayer and Karen Venne. Bob Cords is the custodian.

“I am impressed with the staff,” Hart said. “They have a low turnover rate, and they all seem to like their jobs and want to stay.”

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.



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