Patrons make the library, says new CCLS director
By Trudy Balcom
RAWLINS — “I never set out to be a librarian, but I just fell in love with the work. I just really enjoyed every part of it,” said Jacob Mickelsen, the new director of the Carbon County Library System (CCLS).
Mickelsen started his job on Monday. He served as the Saratoga Library branch manager for several months last year before taking a job with the Saratoga Care Center nursing home. But he never gave up on the idea of a library career.
At the library board’s tumultuous meetings earlier this month, Mickelsen attended “to offer advice based on my experience,” he explained Tuesday. The possibility of applying to become the new director of the Carbon County Library system, he said, was “percolating” in the back of his mind.
The Carbon County Library Board hired him as the new director at its meeting held July 18 at Hanna.
July 18 was to have been the last day of former Library Director, Bobbie Morgan. Morgan tendered her resignation after the Board’s June 20 meeting. But the Library Board requested she turn in her keys at the July 7 board meeting.
Mickelsen’s first experience in the library field was at the Fremont County Public Library in Riverton, where he grew up. He worked there for two years.
At Riverton, he said, he got a “good, all-around experience” by working various departments of the library, but his primary position was in teen services.
Working in teen services, he said, gave him an appreciation of the significance of the library to youth in the community.
He said he was advised by one of the librarians at Riverton to consider a library career, and that is part of what brought him to the job in Saratoga.
Despite all of the recent controversy surrounding budget cuts and staff departures from the library system, Mickelsen said the library system is still in “great shape.”
He challenges anyone who has any doubts about how the library system is operating to visit. Books are on the shelves, computers are running, he said.
Patrons, he added, will find very little evidence of trouble.
“The branch managers are experienced and know the system,” he explained, noting that most of them have years of experience. He also said that as a former branch manager, he understands the concerns of branch managers, which helps to promote unity in the system.
Mickelsen said he knows that the library, like all other county agencies, faces the same bleak budget future promised by the current Wyoming economic outlook. But he said he is not worried about next year’s budget.
“We’ve made very, very, deep cuts this year. That should set us up for a less traumatic and dramatic cut next year. I don’t anticipate anything as deep as this year…I’m sitting next to a lot of empty offices,” he said.
This year’s cuts at the Rawlins branch, Mickelsen said, were tough, but he seems philosophical about it.
“As the biggest part of the system, it sustained the biggest cut,” he said.
The most important task at hand, he believes, is to move the library system forward and provide the best service possible to the patrons of Carbon County.
After all, he said most people aren’t concerned about who is the library director, or who is on the staff, they just want their library.
“That’s what really makes the library,” he said. “The community and the patrons.”