Catherine Wolverton says she knew she was destined to work at a library from a young age. With approximately 20 years of experience, she remains as passionate about her work since the moment she embarked on librarianship. This Essex County resident of over 10 years sits down with Patch and lets us know what it means to her.
When and why did you decide to work for a library?
“Despite the fact I worked in a library in high school it wasn’t until college that I decided to become a librarian. My original plan was to be a teacher, but late in my sophomore year I decided that I really wasn’t called to teach. My mother was a middle school English teacher for over 30 years and I didn’t feel the love for the profession that I saw in her. I took stock of what I enjoyed and realized that the library was where I was supposed to be. I still got to help people and enrich lives, but I was able to let the patron drive the experience rather than a test or curriculum. It also appealed to me to work across the spectrum of people in the community and trying to figure out how to serve everyone to the best of my ability. Never knowing what question was going to come my way kept things interesting.”
What do you love about working at a library?
“I gravitated to librarianship because I love that we make an impact in people’s lives daily and I also enjoy that you never know what the day will bring. Every day is a new puzzle and trying to fit the pieces together to help the most people while keeping costs down, maintaining the two buildings, helping the employees and trying to be forward thinking enough to keep us as a viable part of Bloomfield’s future is challenging and exciting.”
What do you dislike about working at a library?
“Honestly, it’s not having the funds to serve our patrons the way we want to. I know that is incredibly frustrating not only for me, but also my staff. There are materials, databases, software, programs and more that we just can’t afford. Anyone who frequents here has seen the reductions in staff and materials purchased. We do the best we can with what we have, but people who work in libraries are service orientated and we wish we could do more.”
How do you feel your library has impacted the community?
“We help our patrons to have more enjoyable and productive lives which is an amazing privilege. By helping someone find a book that they read before and want to share we are helping to build relationships, by helping someone discover a new author we are helping them relax and expand how they view the world, when we provide a student with the materials to help themselves and finish a project or do their homework we are building self confidence and helping them to broaden their perspectives, we help people find jobs, reconnect with friends and family, connect people with available social services and sometimes we are the only people that listen. Libraries are also places where people without a connection to others or the community can come and feel comfortable and for those people a familiar face, a smile and a short conversation make a world of impact.”
What is something unique about the Bloomfield Library?
“Besides a loyal and passionate staff, our collection of Charles Warren Eaton paintings and a theater in the children’s building, I love that we have two buildings with two distinct personalities. We have an amazing old school children’s library with a huge wooden circulation desk, great architectural detail and beautiful murals. While many people do not find the architectural style of the adult building as endearing it has strong, clean lines and during the period it was built, people were imagining the possibilities and the future. The juxtaposition between the classical children’s building and the future thinking adult building is fabulous.”
Who is your favorite author?
“Being pregnant, working full time and having a 2-year-old at home doesn’t leave me a lot of leisure reading time, but when I do find some time I prefer thick fantasy novels. I’m not particular about the author, but I do prefer series with at least 400 pages each book. My most recent reads are RR Martin and Tad Williams.”
What is a typical workday like at the library?
“A typical work day varies by department –I spend a lot of time reviewing with budget numbers and looking for ways to save money, looking for grants and partnerships, answering patron concerns and questions, reviewing policy, preparing for board meetings, answering staff questions and concerns and trying to provide my staff with the support and resources that they need to properly serve the public.”
What do you wish all residents of Bloomfield knew about the library?
“How much the staff cares about the Township and our patrons – whether it’s helping someone discover a new author or find a job – it’s amazingly satisfying. I also wish people understood that we have something for everyone. We have access to e-books, over 30 public access computers, quiet study areas, meeting rooms, periodicals and newspapers in print and online, regular programming for adult and children, a new partnership with the LVA to provide ESL classes and over 122,000 volumes of books – and we want the public to use them so we offer not only regular library cards, but also courtesy cards to people who own property in Bloomfield, but do not live here and for people who work in the Township.”