Cheryl Telford is another one of the beautiful people of our library system. Always smiling and always gracious, Cheryl is hard at work bringing the Community Ambassador Program to the citizens of Snohomish and Island Counties. I met Cheryl at one of the Community Ambassador training programs. Following is her response to my questions.
What is your educational background?
I attended the University of Iowa, graduating with a Bachelors degree in Sociology. I earned my Masters of Library Science at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland.
It’s quite a change coming from Maryland to Washington. How did you happen to end up in the Seattle area?
My husband and I had often enjoyed visiting Washington and British Columbia while we lived at Annapolis. The catalyst for coming to Washington was my husband taking an early retirement, so we could easily make the choice to live wherever we wished. I was regularly checking Library Hotline for jobs in the Northwest and one of the first I came across that excited me was that of a library manager position at Oak Harbor. I applied for the position, came out for an interview, and was hired. I had the awesome job of managing the brand-new Oak Harbor Library.
How long have you worked at Sno-Isle Libraries?
I’ve had the privilege of working at Sno-Isle for 19 years.
What other positions, besides the Oak Harbor managing librarian position, have you held?
I held two Region Manager positions. One was in North Snohomish and the other in Island County. I was promoted to the position of Director of Community Libraries and Technology. In 2011, I was appointed to the new and exciting position of Strategic Partnerships Manager. The position was created as a support position of the System’s Strategic Plan’s goal to increase Sno-Isle’s community engagement.
Your title, Strategic Partnerships Manager is an interesting one.
It is my responsibility to provide leadership of strategic partnership development in our twenty-one Sno-Isle Library Communities and regionally. Partnerships are important opportunities for organizations such as business, local governments, non-profits, K-12 schools, colleges, and health and library communities to leverage resources by working together where our mission and goals intersect. The challenge comes in identifying and aligning our common interests. Partnerships are all about practicing good stewardship in our use of common resources. Certainly, a benefit for the library system is that these collaborations often result in an ongoing broad-based community support for libraries.
Did you work at another library system before Sno-Isle?
Before joining the Sno-Isle Libraries, I worked for the Anne Arundel County Libraries in Annapolis, Maryland. I began my career working on the Bookmobile, which was a wonderful introduction to personalized library services to the homebound and those who were geographically isolated. My next stint was working at a large reference center where a delightfully eccentric and seasoned librarian mentored me. She took the time to introduce me to the limitless world of information. It was the most exciting and intellectually challenging opportunity I had experienced in my whole life. At that point, I commuted as an evening student at the University of Maryland to obtain my MLS. Upon graduating, I was offered a position as a library manager. My husband retired, and then we began our sojourn to Washington.
In your current position at Sno-Isle Libraries, what do you see as your most valuable role in terms of community awareness, community library use, and meeting community library needs?
Learning what brings new customers into our libraries who have not visited us before. Then to mobilize Community Ambassador Volunteers to spread the word about the diversity of services and programs Sno-Isle Libraries have to offer. As a result of this concerted volunteer effort, we now have the potential to make non-users library customers. I am most fortunate to work in a public agency that truly has something for everyone. Whether our customers need homework help, early literacy programming, citizenship training, foreign language instruction, information on how to start a small business, doing a job search, or a do-it-yourself construction project, that help is at the local library. It’s free, and it’s accessible to everyone.
Any additional comments you would care to make?
I love to hear about ways our libraries impact people’s lives. I extend an invitation to all your readers to share their library stories and testimonials. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next time you need answers to buy an electric car, apply for a job on line, or choose an award-winning picture book for a child, remember your library is the go to place where there is always more to explore!
Norman W. Wilson is a regular contributor to Camano Community and writes on a variety of topics. His latest book is DUH! The American Educational Disaster.