Katharine Clark

My day job is being the adult services librarian at the E.D. Locke Public Library in McFarland. This is a new position for the library and I’m responsible for the adult fiction collection, community outreach and adult program development. I’m also the chair of the Literary Awards Committee for the Wisconsin Library Association, which honors Wisconsin authors.

I’ve worked in libraries for many years—I started with shelving books and the reference staff encouraged me to go back to school and get a degree in library science. I love to meet people and it’s never felt like a job to me.

It’s been fascinating to see how libraries have transformed over time. Today they’re not just a place to get books; they’re the “third place” where we build community outside of our homes and work.

Historically, librarians have tended to play a gatekeeper role when it came to information; we had the physical resources that people needed. I like to be more of a navigator—someone who helps people find what they need, especially at a time when electronic channels have become so important.

I love the idea of libraries facilitating the Wisconsin idea of people being lifelong learners. I’ve often found that people will come to the library as kids but then fall away as they hit adulthood and don’t return until they have kids of their own. I’d like to keep them coming at every age.

One way I’m doing that is by reaching out to the larger community to let them know of the resources we have available and the many ways we can work together. I’ve become a big user of social media to get the word out—check us out on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Nextdoor.com—and it’s paying off. For instance, because of these efforts the local Optimist Club recently held their bike rodeo here. We had over 200 kids in our parking lot learning bike safety and many also stopped in at the library.

We have great meeting spaces available to the community and also host a variety of interesting events. For instance, thanks to Beyond the Page, which supports art programs, we were able to bring live theater right to our library and hosted a Bard on Broadway performance.

My most memorable caffeine is the tea I “borrow” from my mother. I was born in England and lived there until I was seven (at which point my family moved to South Dakota). When I go to visit my mom, I always tap into her store of PG tips, which is the everyman’s drinking tea of England. She orders it online and has a big shipment sent to her house.

My current caffeine of choice is English breakfast tea with milk and some sugar or Equal.

My favorite place for caffeine is the McFarland House Café. It’s just around the corner from the library and located in one of the oldest—if not the oldest—buildings in town. It used to be right next to the train station and I’m not sure if it was originally a family home or a boarding house. The owners are fantastic and they’re incredibly committed to McFarland.

The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is Chelsea Handler. I really like the fact that she addresses issues—whether it’s politics or health. It would be hard to keep up with her, but I’d love to give it a try!

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine:  making sure every one has a mentor. I’ve seen first hand the problems and challenges people face when they don’t have someone looking out for them—someone in their corner. We each need someone to advocate for us and help us navi