Karen Horner has been selected by the library board as the new system director. The following conversation is an introduction to Karen. Send your questions for the director to [email protected]
PCL: Tell us about yourself and why you applied to be director of the library system.
KH: Hello, my name is Karen Horner and I am extremely excited to be the new County Library Director for Park County. I have a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University. My Bachelor’s Degree from Oregon State University is in Agriculture, I specialized in Wildland/Rangeland Management.
Born and raised in California, I have lived in various areas of Northern and Central California, Tennessee, Arkansas and Hawaii. My family and I have been wanting to leave California for some time, but wanted to relocate to an area that would suit our lifestyle. I was happy to find the Park County Library Director job posting, as Wyoming was a state to which we were most interested in relocating. Availability of librarian jobs in Wyoming are not very common so I knew I had to jump at the chance for this opportunity.
PCL: Tell us about your family.
KH: My family includes my husband Marty, we have been together for over 30 years. We have 2 children, my son Jake and my daughter Megan. Marty has worked as a carpenter for decades, is a member of the local volunteer fire department, and has recently returned to college to enter the medical field. He is looking forward to the hunting and fishing in Wyoming. Jake is currently a college student and works as a Firefighter, while Megan is a high school senior who is very involved in FFA and loves sports. Our family is very close knit and excited to relocate to Park County.
PCL: Describe your career and how your experience in Mendocino County prepared you for the challenges Park County presents.
KH: Currently, I am the Cultural Services Agency Director and County Librarian for Mendocino County, CA. I oversee 5 library branches, Bookmobile and Outreach Mobile Unit, County Museum, and all County Parks.
Mendocino County is a very large, geographically isolated area of Northern California. Most of my branches are an hour and half apart and require traveling through mountain roads to access. Each of my branches represents a different community geographically and characteristically. They enjoy their independence and individuality. In my current position I report to five elected Board of Supervisors that each represent a district in the County. My position requires me to wear different hats, working with 2 different advisory boards, 6 different Friends of the Library groups, along with serving on the County Executive Leadership Team. I regularly visit all branches and stay active with each community in the county, actively participating in county events, town programs and connecting with other organizations and groups in the community. Like Park County, Mendocino County is rural, geographically isolated from other areas, and each of its communities have a strong sense of individuality. I am prepared to lead Park County Library, as I bring an approachability, common sense and understanding that the library is meant
to serve all the communities. I am familiar with budgetary concerns, bringing the library to the community and dealing with conflicting ideas of libraries. The goal is to make sure the library is serving the whole community and working together for the success of Park County.
PCL: Describe your familiarity with Wyoming.
KH: I have been a lifelong fan of Wyoming and it has always been on my list of states I would like to move too. I have visited Wyoming a few times, my first visit being in 1989 to Cody as a tourist. The culture and lifestyle in Wyoming seems to suit my family as we appreciate the isolation and ruggedness of Wyoming.
PCL: How does Park County fit your lifestyle?
KH: As the new County Library Director for Park County, I am excited to relocate to an area that I feel will be a better fit for myself and my family. It was evident from visiting Cody, Powell and Meeteetse that Park County will provide the lifestyle my family and I seek. We are from small rural areas of California and appreciate the small towns of Park County, while still providing all the amenities we would need. We currently have to drive over an hour and half to go to the nearest Wal-Mart and do any major shopping. The sense of adventure, the openness of the land, the opportunity for outdoor activities which we enjoy; fishing, hunting, gardening and the opportunity to connect with an active, friendly and independent community is something that life in Park County can provide.
PCL: How do you see the future of the system?
KH: We are definitely in unusual times. This year saw libraries throughout the country close down, which was something I thought we would never see. Throughout the country, we are now exploring the future of public libraries and how they will move forward. As our community work places change, the delivery of how we acquire information, and even how education is delivered, public libraries will continue to be the hub of the community, a place where people can access not only information online, but can access materials, books, and connect to their community. When everything else is changing, the library will still be the bastion of familiarity, and become even more relevant in serving their communities beyond online services. I think public libraries will steer away from the past trend of centralization and streamlining, instead will become more indicators of their community, serving specific needs and interests of their patrons.
PCL: What else should the people of Park County know about you?
KH: Well, I really don’t like talking about myself, but overall I think most people will find me easy going and friendly. I look forward to connecting with everyone and becoming part of the community. I really want the library to reach out more and branch out into different parts of the public. My family and I are looking forward to moving and being in an area of the country with like-minded values and settling down to enjoy ourselves.
Thank you to the library board of directors and the staff committee for your diligence in filling this vital position in spite of challenging times.