Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) Everett Roehl Marshfield Public Library will soon welcome a new Library Director this summer.
Taking over the role is Jill Porter, who most recently served as Assistant Director for Public Service at the Traverse Area District Library (TADL) in Traverse City, Michigan.
Current library director Lori Belongia, who originally planned to retire April 24 after nearly two decades years in the position, will instead retire on June 6 to allow some overlap with Porter’s start date of June 1.
Porter has been a librarian for over 30 years, but notes she didn’t set out to work in public libraries.
“My areas of focus in graduate school were in law librarianship and technical services, and aside from a short stint at the New York Public Library while I was grad school, I spent the first half of my career managing research librarians at a global law firm, and in marketing and sales for a large legal education provider and publisher,” she said. “It was only after I moved back to Michigan in 2000 to help out my aging parents that I started inching toward public librarianship and fell in love with it.”
Porter began looking for a library to serve as director and hoped to find a community where good things were happening and which provided opportunities to get involved. Before interviewing for the Marshfield position, she spent hours watching Common Council meetings, reading meeting minutes, and searching through the library website to get a feel for Marshfield and the library’s place in it.
“I was excited about what I had learned, and during the interview process, the staff, board and other community members really won me over and confirmed that Marshfield would be a great fit,” she said.
As the new director Porter looks forward to getting to know those involved with the library, and the community at large.
“The library will be working on a new strategic plan soon,” she said. “Input from community members and stakeholders will be key to setting the right objectives and goals that will allow the library to continue to serve the community well.”
Porter believes her experience in growing library outreach and establishing local partnerships to provide more programs and services will prove beneficial. With the uncertainties of COVID-19 and the closures of libraries during the pandemic, her experience leading staff through challenging times will be useful from the start.
“How the library will be able to re-open is something we just don’t know right now, and doing what I can to support staff and keep them and the community safe while offering as many services as we can will be top priority,” Porter said.
While closed to the public, except for curbside pickup, the library has turned to virtual events such as Mr. Murray’s Bedtime Stories on Facebook Live, Friday Night Trivia and crafting programs. It’s also helped guide residents through the unemployment application process and coordinated the drive-through pickup of library materials.
“Each area of the library continues to have something to offer to the community, even if the doors are closed,” Porter said.
Outside the bookshelves, Porter holds a passion for textiles and fiber art. She enjoys hand spinning, knitting, and weaving, and loves searching for vintage and antique textiles at flea markets and estate sales.
“I also love traveling, and closer to home, I spend a fair amount of time outside cycling or gardening,” she said. “I can’t wait to explore the recreational areas in and around Marshfield.”