Jefferson County Library Director Meredith Wagner will be stepping down in 2017 after over 20 years with the library. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Jefferson County Library Director Meredith Wagner will be stepping down in 2017 after over 20 years with the library. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Jefferson County Library director prepares to retire after two decades in post

PORT HADLOCK — Jefferson County Library Director Meredith Wagner plans to step down this year from the job she’s held for more than 20 years.

There is currently no date set for Wagner’s retirement, but she said she wanted to give the library board of trustees plenty of time to find a replacement and is likely to work until the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition.

Wagner began her time at the library as the assistant director under Ray Serebrin in 1990. The library was then undergoing the first of many renovations to expand the Port Hadlock location.

Since then, Wagner has overseen a second remodel and an upgraded bookmobile in her time as director.

“I actually had never worked in a library before,” Wagner said of her start.

Wagner’s background was in research administration. She helped staff at the William and Mary College in Virginia write grants to acquire funds for research and also worked at the Chrysler Museum in Virginia.

She made her way to the Pacific Northwest in 1990 with her husband, Peter, who moved here to pursue a woodworking business.

Wager was hired by Serebrin to help during a chaotic renovation. She then helped the library establish the Cooperative Libraries Automated Network, which connects the county library, Port Townsend Library, maritime center library and school libraries throughout the county, allowing for more access to a wider selection of books, movies and music.

“Over time, my responsibilities just grew,” Wagner said.

As the director of the county library, Wagner said her job encompasses more than the director of a city or school library.

“We’re pretty much running our own operation,” Wagner said.

This means Wagner is responsible for the library’s finances and hiring staff who are responsible for a variety of operations, such as acquiring books, processing them into the system and distributing them around the county via the Cooperative Libraries Automated Network or the popular bookmobile.

“As the director, you’re really the leader,” Wagner said. “You’re setting the vision for the organization and then carrying out that vision.”

Wagner said one of the first things she implemented as director was technology education classes for the public.

“That’s how people access information now, and we didn’t want people to become marginalized because they didn’t know how to use the tech,” Wagner said.

That program is now known as “Tech Tuesdays,” where a library staff member will run a one-hour session on anything from basic computer terms to Pinterest. Then there is a two-hour drop-in window for people to ask any tech questions they have.

“We really see ourselves as educators, and we’re providing learning opportunities,” Wagner said.

However, spreading those opportunities across an area like Jefferson County hasn’t been easy.

“Transportation and how we serve is a big challenge for us,” Wagner said.

That’s where the new and improved bookmobile comes in, which extends library services into the south and west ends of the county.

While she’s still library director, Wagner said she’s planning to expand more of the library’s programs into community centers in Quilcene and Brinnon.

“We kind of serve as educators but also as a cultural hub,” Wagner said. “We’re trying to expand that cultural education into other parts of the county.”

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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