Julie Wilson began her library career delivering books to senior citizen and nursing homes. Now, she is Oldham County Public Library’s new director.
Although she’s a new face in the director role, Wilson has actually worked for the library since January of 2013. But before that, she had moved to Indiana to go to Hanover College, which is where she met her husband.
It wasn’t until after she got a job at the Frankfort library, in Indiana as a children’s services librarian, that she realized her path. That’s when she decided to make it her career and began focusing on obtaining her masters.
She eventually moved back to Oldham in 2004, a move that made her “very very happy,” she says.
As far as her experience, “I’ve done a little bit of everything,” Wilson says, from delivering books to becoming a teen services librarian and a branch manager. “Everything except for the cataloging.”
Most recently she was branch manager of the South Oldham branch, a position she held since September of 2017.
“I’ve been there for four years and love that community. They embrace me, and made the job an absolute joy …” Wilson says.
“But, I was lucky that I found an amazing person to replace myself there …” something she was worried about at first. She’s never had to hire someone for her job before, she says and laughs.
“Patty Clark was hired to replace me (at South Oldham Library). She was here at the main branch, so that’s been an easy transition and she’ll do an amazing job.”
Wilson worked at the La Grange location, which is the main branch, before as well, so her transition was pretty smooth, too. “It’s been really fun — it feels like good timing, just the right thing at the right time. And I’m really, really enjoying the staff here at La Grange again.”
Wilson’s official start date was May 2. In a social media post by the library, Wilson was welcomed to her new post. “We are confident that her energy and exciting ideas make her the perfect candidate to lead the library forward,” the post reads.
Wilson replaces former director Jessica Powell, who she says did an amazing job and who she worked very closely with. She shares a snapshot the two took together during Library Legislative Day in Frankfort.
Powell was with the library for three and a half years, and lead the library “through unexpected challenges to wonderful growth,” the post says, referring to adversities libraries have had to learn to deal with during and after the COVID pandemic.
“We’ve missed having everyone here and having these big events. We’d love for the library to be the center of the community again this summer, with kids out of school and coming here for all different types of programs.”
Wilson says that in terms of overall service, a huge focal point for her is making community connections.
“I feel like the library is a place where anyone can come — it’s a safe space. It can be a quiet space, or offer interactive play for children and families, a safe place for teens to come …” she says.
The library is a space where a lot of the community’s retirees connect with each other, Wilson says, and she’s watched new friendships happen.
“We try to have fun events for all age groups, so that people are feeling that isolation they felt in the last couple of years …” in dealing with the pandemic closures and social distancing, she says.
“It’s just a place to get together and share different ideas with one another, talk about books, art, films, do crafts together — all kinds of things,” Wilson says. She believes there are endless possibilities at the library, in terms of helping people engage.
Of course, the world has gone digital, especially in the wake of the coronavirus, Wilson says, and the library does spend money to make sure it keeps up with technology needed.
“But even though people may be using a screen to connect with some things, we still want to provide that space for them to connect with each other.”