Library director to retire after 27 years of service to community

Katie Kowalski, news@ptleader.com
Posted 2/21/17

When Meredith Wagner began at the Jefferson County Library 27 years ago, it was a small place with print collections and a card catalog. This fall, the director is leaving behind a flourishing center …

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Library director to retire after 27 years of service to community

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When Meredith Wagner began at the Jefferson County Library 27 years ago, it was a small place with print collections and a card catalog. This fall, the director is leaving behind a flourishing center of technology and education that continues to expand its services to all areas of the county.

“Our library and the community it serves have been blessed with an extraordinary leader,” library board chair Sylvia White said of Wagner, who recently announced her plans to retire.

Wagner, who plans to continue through this fall to ensure a smooth transition for her successor, met with the board last year to complete a strategic plan to guide work this year and set a course for the future beyond her tenure.

Already in place as of January are tech classes in Quilcene, and Wagner plans to bring more classes and programs to South County before she leaves. Other plans she’s set in motion for the future include building sustainable STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) programming for youths, and replacing the roof at the Port Hadlock facility.

“It has been an honor to serve an organization that ensures free and equal access to information and ideas for everyone in our community,” said Wagner.

Wagner moved to Jefferson County in 1990 with her husband, Peter, and was soon hired as an assistant to the library’s director at that time, Judy Gunter.

“I quickly learned that the library was a place where I could grow professionally and contribute to my community,” said Wagner.

In the past few decades, the library has become a successful member library in the Cooperative Libraries Automated Network (CLAN), providing community members and schools better access to library collections, and introducing classes to help people learn technology skills in the digital age. It serves people who need help seeking jobs and upgrading work skills, and offers early literacy classes for children, among other educational programs.

“We have also become a thriving learning center in rural Jefferson County, offering scores of educational and cultural programs and classes to meet a wide range of needs and interests,” Wagner said.

Wagner said it has been a privilege to lead the library and work with its dedicated staff and board. She and her husband have plans to stay in the area after her retirement, and also spend time on the East Coast with her mother.

“We wish Meredith every good thing for her future activities,” White said.

In addition to Wagner’s service to library, she has also served on the board of trustees of Humanities Washington and United Good Neighbors of Jefferson County and has volunteered with a number of local organizations.

Wagner is also currently a member of the East Jefferson Rotary Club.

The Jefferson County Library Board of Trustees is to conduct a national search to select Wagner’s successor, and White said the board will be reaching out to the community for input during this process.

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