This week’s Meet Your Neighbor undoubtedly has been called “Madame Librarian” countless times, and yet she tirelessly flashes that big smile every time someone thinks they’re being clever.
Come June, Molly Lank-Jones will have been the director of Hayward’s Sherman & Ruth Weiss Community Library for 25 years.
“I was born in Peoria, Illinois, 62 years ago. Sadly, both of my parents are gone. My elder siblings — brother John and sister Chris — and their families, my remaining aunt, and my cousins are very dear to me, but live across the country.
My Hayward family includes my husband, Jeff Jones, of WOJB and The Park Center; his parents Leon and Carla; his brother Dan and his wife Karen, and their sons.
Jeff’s sister, spouse, children and grandchildren live out West, but we’re still close. I am also lucky to have good friends who feel like family, both in Hayward and elsewhere. As a result of my job and Jeff’s, I have met many wonderful people from our area and beyond.”
“People who know me don’t always believe it but I’m an introvert by nature. If I know you and don’t have a work deadline, however, I can talk your ear off. I am happiest having meaningful conversations and sharing good laughs with my peeps, and have been known on occasion to be a practical joker. But put me in front of a large group of people and I turn into the shy, awkward pre-teen who was on cloud nine reading a stack of 10 library books while chewing stick after stick of Addams orange-flavored gum. My personal passions are — surprise! — reading, music, art and film.
I’m ridiculously entertained by our three cats, and love animals and nature in general.
High points in my life include our wedding, my trips to New York City, London, Portland, Seattle, Alaska and the Bahamas; a job offer from Scribner’s Bookstore in NYC; and an award for a magazine ad for which I wrote the copy and my graphic designer pal created the artwork.”
How did you come to your career as a librarian? Why Hayward?
“I was meant to be a librarian. As a young teenager, I remember standing across the street from the large downtown library in Peoria thinking, ‘Someday I’m going to work there.’
I eventually did, as a reference librarian, for 10 fulfilling years. To get there, I earned an associate’s degree in liberal arts with a focus on English literature and library science, then a bachelor’s degree in English literature and foreign languages (mine being Spanish) from Bradley University in Peoria. I loved attending college, as I love learning. It’s good that I do, because to keep my certification as library director from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, I attend conferences, classes and webinars approximately three to four times each month.
My past jobs include working as a library clerk, store clerk, at a paper bindery in Bettendorf, Iowa, as a waitress in Champaign, Illinois, and a copy-advertising writer for a marketing firm in Peoria. I was working the latter job when my husband’s parents bought a resort in Hayward 26 years ago.
Being fans of the TV show ‘Northern Exposure,’ we drove up for Thanksgiving and were pleased that, although there was a lot of snow on the ground, the temperature was in the 50s. Reality set in when we moved up a year later and the temperature plunged to 55 degrees below.
I don’t enjoy cold weather, but my life is so busy that I don’t pay much attention to it. I love my job and I love living in Hayward.”
What are some of your challenges?
“Being director of the Sherman & Ruth Weiss Community Library fulfills my desire to help others and to always learn something new. In varying degrees, I answer to the Library Board of Trustees, Northern Waters Library Service, the City of Hayward, Sawyer County, the State Department of Public Instruction-Division for Libraries and Technology, the federal government and, of course, our community. I know how lucky I am to have such a great staff, and we call each other our ‘library family.’ My job is exciting and sometimes exhausting, as libraries are evolving and becoming true community centers.”
Describe the Hayward library for a newcomer, just arriving in town.
“In our building and online, we offer people standard library services such as educational and entertaining books, e-books, audio books and DVDs; access to computers, printers, copiers, fax service; free test proctoring; help with Kindles and iPads; and free online classes, most of which can be used for college credit.
We have two private study rooms and a good-sized meeting room that is free to non-profit groups, and costs $20 (for up to four hours) for profit groups.
Northwest Connection Family Resources presents story hour every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. and the Friends of the Library sponsor fantastic community programs that are almost always free to the public. The Friends also run a Used Book Room that is filled with great bargains. Funds they raise go to the library to purchase needed items that the regular budget can’t cover.
The Hayward Library Foundation raises and carefully invests funds to ensure the library’s future. They also host the popular ‘Author’s Night’ at the Ranch Supper Club.
The Foundation Board holds interesting book talks and signings by regional authors, community dances, Business After Five and GNO gatherings, and various fundraisers for the library.
This seems to have turned into a promotion for the library, but this girl can’t help it. My life revolves around the library!”