PRINCETON — Princeton Public Library patrons know Julie Wayland as a book lover and the director of the library.
Wayland went On the Record with the BCR to discuss the changing role of the library and how it has managed to stay relevant in today’s world.
What is your job at the Princeton Public Library, and how long have you been in your position?
I have been the director of the Princeton Public Library since August of 2012.
What do you most like about your job?
I’m lucky to have a great staff. They are passionate about the library and providing great service. Our patrons are awesome too! Every day we hear positive comments. These factors make going to work a pleasure. Plus, we are surrounded by books! How cool is that?
How has the library changed since you’ve been there?
I think we have streamlined a number of processes and improved access for our patrons to more materials through interlibrary loans and reciprocal borrowing. We have an outstanding collection of books and DVDs, but we are more than happy to help people locate whatever they are looking for from their libraries.
How has the role of the library changed over the years?
We are much more flexible than we once were. The term hyper-local has been used to describe how we strive to respond to the needs of the town of Princeton. I think this is shown in some of our partnerships and programming. The challenge is getting feedback from the community, so we know where their interest lie. Communication is key; we need to know what people want before we can offer it.
What do libraries have to do in this day and age to stay relevant?
We have to adapt to technology. When something new comes out, we are there asking how can we implement this for our patrons? I don’t think we will have a robot in 2017, but we are keeping an eye on things like virtual reality and online learning.
Fortunately, the board of trustees is very open-minded when it comes to offering the citizens what they want. They recognize the need of the library to be flexible and responsive to what is happening in the community.
What accomplishments are you most proud of, both professionally and personally?
I’m proud the library is open to new ideas and partnerships. We are happy to offer an environment where people can learn new things, be entertained, or share their interests. The Rediscover Richard Widmark group is a good example. We started Widmark Wednesdays four years ago, and they are still going strong. There are a number of other groups that regularly meet here, and we are happy to provide a comfortable space for them.
What is the library’s biggest concern at this point?
Our concern is the same as many organizations, primarily funding. We are largely dependent on property taxes. Fortunately, the Friends of the Library help significantly with book sales, and the community has been very generous in response to our fundraising activity. That being said, we are very interested in attracting new businesses and residents to move to the area.
What are your future hopes and goals for the library?
I have many hopes and goals for the library! As a reflection of the community, I would like the library to be on the cutting edge of new technology. The city of Princeton is a city of people who are willing to learn new things, and we are the perfect place to offer those opportunities.
We started a campaign this year to spread the word on the different services we provide. I hope that will get more people in the doors. I am always surprised when people say that they haven’t been to the library since it moved in 2007. I want people to pop in for a cup of coffee and see what we have to offer.
What impact has the Little Free Library program had on the community?
I think it has been a positive project. I know when I go past a Little Free Library, it makes me happy. The best part about them is how they showcase the uniqueness of community. I am still hearing about them popping up. We have a brochure with the ones we know about, but it needs to be updated, and we would appreciate help in keeping it current.
What is your favorite section in the library and why?
I am a huge fan of the cafe. I love the windows and active atmosphere when you first walk into the building. The coffee and smell of fresh baked cookies are hard to resist. Being able to offer Majestic doughnuts is a special treat.