Two years ago, Angela Campbell was hired as director of the Glenwood Public Library. During her time in Glenwood, the library has seen some significant changes.
“During the interview process, they (the library board) talked about renovating,” Campbell said. “Having just seen the two new libraries being built in Davenport, I was really excited for that. I was really happy to see a rather dull, unused space (the lower level) being turned into someplace lively.”
Within a month, Campbell will no longer be the spark igniting the liveliness. She has taken a position with a larger library in Illinois.
“I really wasn’t even looking for a job, a friend of mine saw the job opportunity and sent it to me,” Campbell said.
She applied, was interviewed, and to her surprise, was offered the job as director of the Rock Island, Ill., public library system, which consists of one main library and two branches.
“I really had no intentions of leaving, but I can’t pass up this opportunity,” Campbell said.
Part of Campbell’s excitement about her new job is the library’s involvement with the RiverShare Consortium of Libraries. People living in Iowa can use open access, which enables users from a participating library to check out physical materials at more than 600 libraries across the state. Most states, including Illinois, do not have this type of policy, but RiverShare allows borrowing between some Iowa and Illinois libraries.
Campbell came to Glenwood from Davenport, another community in the RiverShare Consortium, so she is very familiar with the area.
“Rock Island is a city with great diversity,” Campbell said. “It is on the cusp of doing really great things. The city is bringing a lot of programs for the disadvantaged.”
While Campbell is excited for her new opportunity, she is sad to be leaving Glenwood.
“Everyone has been so welcoming and so nice,” Campbell said. “When anyone asks me what it’s like living here, I always say everyone is so nice.”
Along with overseeing the renovation, Campbell has also worked hard to get more people to use the library.
“The other thing that struck me during the library interview process was that the place was so quiet,” Campbell said. “I came upstairs and there was no one here. One of my other goals was to get more people to use the library.”
She’s done this in a variety of ways.
“The teen lock-in was a lot of fun … playing games, the murder mystery, eating pizza.”
One of the big innovations Campbell brought to Glenwood was the Living Literacy lab.
“That lab is a cutting edge thing. I’m really proud of that. It can be used a lot more than it is currently being used. I hope the library keeps up with that.”
Campbell is happy with the outcome of her efforts.
“Our door count has increased, the computer usage count has increased. The big increase has been the number of young adult books being checked out.”
Campbell said this is a huge accomplishment, as the young adult sector is hard to cater to.
“For anything that isn’t school-related, it’s difficult. There are so many things pulling their time that they might not even think about coming to the library. This community is really lucky. This entity (the library) always has to compete with so many other entities.”
Campbell is very humbled by everything she has overseen during her time in Glenwood.
“I can’t believe what has happened in two years. I can’t believe I was leading that.”
As a first-time library director, she had some challenges and new processes to learn.
“I’ve never been a library director before, so I had to learn the financing side,” Campbell said. “I also had to learn all the city rules. Each city is different.”
Campbell said she will miss leading the Glenwood Public Library.
“There’s so much I want to do – we’re the hungry child that everyone wants to help but don’t always have the resources to help.”
She’s used every resource available to her to make the Glenwood Public Library the best it can be – even recruiting her husband, Dan, who works in IT, to be a volunteer.
She will specifically miss overseeing the summer program this year.
“It’s been our goal to grow it,” Campbell said. “In the past, it’s been a five-week program, and we’re going to make it a nine-week program. It’s a great way of getting kids into going to the library.”
Campbell will take vacation from Jan. 18 - Feb. 11. When she returns for her final two days, the hope is to have someone hired so that person can work with Campbell.
“People in the community should be excited for someone else coming in,” Campbell said. “I know that person will do great things.”