A childhood goal is now a reality for Keri Black, the new director at the Wauseon Public Library.
“Growing up, if you asked me what I wanted to be as an adult, I would say, ‘A librarian’,” she said. When she was a child, Black, a 2007 Swanton High School graduate, spent nearly all of her free time at the Swanton Public Library.
“As a teenager, I would go there after school and stay there until they closed at 8 p.m. I became very active as a Library Teen, attending all youth programming that the library offered.”
After high school graduation, Black attended Adrian College and graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in women’s studies. In 2013, she graduated from the University of Toledo, with a Master of Liberal Studies.
“For the first decade of my professional career, I lived and worked predominantly in Lucas County. For the bulk of my career so far, I have worked in family and victim services, with my lengthiest tenure being at the YWCA of Northwest Ohio, where I worked in various capacities from 2011 through 2019.”
Prior to becoming the Library Director, most of her work experience has been in non-profit leadership roles, having served as Program Manager and Director at the YWCA Rape Crisis Center, Family Preservation Program Manager at Adriel, and Parent Café Coordinator at the Children’s Resource Center.
“I ended up working in the social services sector, but would always tell my colleagues that I had a librarian’s soul,” said Black.
A move to Wauseon and resulting desire to work closer to home came at the perfect time.
“Though I thought it was a long shot, I decided to search for librarian jobs in the Four County region, and wouldn’t you know it: The first thing that popped up was the Crescent News advertisement for this position,” said Black. “I applied immediately and, to this day, am astonished and honored to have been chosen.”
At the time she was applying for the library position, Black also had an opportunity to pursue a position at a for-profit bookstore.
“The reason I chose WPL is because I feel that libraries are an integral part of every community, and coming from a non-profit background, it is important for me to be in a role that enriches the livelihood of my fellow community members,” she said. “Libraries are so much more than a place to borrow books; they are about access to technology and critical resources for everyone. Libraries bridge the gaps which exist in society between classes, races, ability levels, and more.”
The career change was inspired by a friend’s mother.
“My best friend from college, Katie’s mom, Bablynn (Babs) Squires, is my inspiration in this career 100%,” said Black. “Babs took me under her wing when Katie and I became friends my sophomore year of college, and she has been like a second mother to me ever since.”
Squires’ career journey was nearly identical to that of Black, with her becoming a rape crisis advocate during graduate school, teaching preschool, and eventually becoming a librarian. “Unfortunately, Babs passed away unexpectedly in May of 2022. In her honor and for good luck, I wore a necklace which was once hers, gifted to me by Katie upon her passing, to my interview for the Library Director position. I wear the necklace often on my days in the library, to remind me of the amazing woman who walked this path before me.”
With a first day of Nov. 21, she is still settling into the position but her main goals in the position are to increase programming, diversify the library’s reach, and to modernize its offerings.
While there may be some room for improvements, Black wants the community to know that the the library does currently offer a variety of services, including a mystery book club, reading challenges, die cut machine access, Cricut machine access, a microfilm reader, homeschool support services, free meeting room reservations and early literacy programming.