Lisa Guedea Carreño, library director at Goshen College, has been named the new director of the Elkhart Public Library. She will succeed Deborah Stewart, who is retiring.
Guedea Carreño is in the middle of leading college students on a study-service trip in Nicaraugua, and will start work at EPL on Aug. 11.
She answered a few Truth questions about her new role via email.
Elkhart Truth: What library experience do you have?
Guedea Carreño: I have been library director at Goshen College since 2000. Prior to that I was a corporate librarian at Highsmith Inc. (an educational and library supply company) in Wisconsin for nine years. My first professional position was as a law firm librarian in New Hampshire, where I worked for five years. (I worked my way through college in libraries as well.)
Elkhart Truth: Why did you decide to take on the EPL directorship?
Guedea Carreño: My decision to accept the appointment was based on a number of factors. First, I am encouraged by how many people use the Elkhart Public Library for a wide variety of reasons and resources. Also, when I interviewed for the position, it was obvious that the EPL staff members I met are passionate about public service, and their work has been expertly guided by current director Deborah Stewart. Likewise, the board seems very supportive of the mission and work of the library. This is a great combination of assets that will help the library continue to meet the needs — both current and emerging — of the communities it serves, even in these challenging economic times.
Second, my personal philosophy of librarianship has always been that libraries are about ideas, information and inspiration, and each of these things involve people. This is especially evident in the public library setting. Whether it is face-to-face interaction that happens in a shared space or access to electronic sources that transcend a physical place, the library connects people to ideas, information and inspiration, and these are essential building blocks for developing ourselves as individuals as well as creating and enriching community life.
Finally, I have lived in Elkhart County (Dunlap) since 2000, and I am invested in the well-being of the area, both now and in the future. Because of my personal interests, I have been involved in a number of artistic, musical and civic projects over the past 14 years, and now the Elkhart Public Library director position gives me the chance to contribute to the community via my professional skills and experience.
Elkhart Truth: What are your goals for the Elkhart Public Libraries? What's your top priority?
Guedea Carreño: My top priorities are to look, listen and learn. Some of the best advice gleaned from the literature on transition planning is that a manager rarely comes to work the first day with all the answers. On the contrary, the effective manager or leader takes time to ask lots of questions and gather important information in order to truly understand the issues, needs, opportunities and challenges of the organization before making big decisions or actions. Of course, there will be pending matters that need immediate attention, but I also want to spend a fair amount of time and attention on learning about EPL, establishing relationships, scanning the environment (both internal and external), and clarifying expectations. Among other things, this includes initiating conversations with as many people and groups as possible – library staff, board members, library friends, community groups, business leaders, elected and appointed officials, professional peers, the outgoing library director, and other library stakeholders, collaborators and potential partners. Fortunately, a strategic planning process is presently underway, so I will also work hard to plug into the good work that has been done already in order to move it forward in an informed and timely way.