He's getting a read on the library

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Friday, November 30, 2007
— The city’s new library director hopes a mascot will attract as many children to the library as the mascot at his last job.

Bryan McCormick is introducing himself and Jamila to Janesville.

Jamila is the 6-foot stuffed giraffe who, along with her baby, Spotty, have welcomed children to Hedberg Public Library the past several years. Now, Jamila will be brought to life as a mascot to better market the library.

McCormick saw children’s’ library attendance grow dramatically after introducing a tiger mascot in Fairmont, Minn., where he was director the last five years.

In Janesville, the two giraffes already were a part of the children’s library landscape, so staff continued with the theme and will order a costume to bring Jamila to life at community events.

“When you see the mascot, you automatically think of the library,” McCormick said.

McCormick started work here Oct. 22 and said he’s happy to be back in the state where he grew up.

His goals include:

-- Using technology to save time and money. McCormick is considering radio chips for each book so entire carts of books could be checked in with one wave of a wand, for instance. Now, books are scanned individually.

A radio signal also could be used to locate an item anywhere in the library.

-- Using creative marketing to increase library visibility.

-- Managing tighter budgets without cutting staff or programs, possibly by more fundraising.

-- Continuing maintenance on an aging building.

-- Improving the speed of the library’s computers, which become sluggish in the afternoon when so many people are using them.

McCormick said library work appeals to him because it touches on many of his interests, including the satisfaction he gets from working with a variety of people.

McCormick was set to become a math teacher when he entered college, where he was assigned as a student worker in the library.

A math professor noticed how McCormick seemed to enjoy the work and suggested he might be happy in the field.

“It was kind of like a light bulb going on,” McCormick said.

Library people seem to have similar personalities that focus on doing good, he said.

“It’s a fun atmosphere.”

The Hedberg library board had trouble filling the director’s position, and McCormick can’t figure out why.

“This is one of the best jobs in the state,” he said.

“There aren’t any major problems here at all. From what I’ve seen, it’s a real well-run system with a great staff and great support.”

Possibly, the difficulty was a matter of timing because of a shortage of qualified library directors.

“This job was waiting for me to be available,” McCormick said with a smile.

“I love it … This is the job for me.”


Age: 37

Title: Director of the Hedberg Public Library

Grew up in: Brown Deer.

Huge fan of: The Packers. He and his dad were at the game when a Packer did the first Lambeau Leap. He has a brick at Lambeau Field.

Reads: Historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy

Recently vacationed in: Sochi, a Russian resort city on the shores of the Black Sea set against a background of the Caucasus Mountains. Sochi is the site of the 2014 winter Olympics.

His interest: The Open World Program, an exchange program that he became involved in as library director in Fairmont, Minn. He’s been to Russia five times and has a good relationship with the National Library of Chuvashia. He met his wife, Marina, when she visited Fairmont as a participant in Open World. She was chief accountant at the Chuvashia library.

Jamila, the mascot

Jamila, the library’s mascot, is modeled after a 6-foot stuffed giraffe that welcomes children to the Hedberg Public Library. She and her baby, Spotty, were donated in memory of Kaly Arreazola. The giraffes were made by Steiff, a famous German toy company.

Jamila and Spotty were named by the children.

“We had, like, 95 Spottys,” Jamie Swenson, youth associate in the children’s library, recalled with a laugh in telling of the contest.

The giraffes are “absolutely gorgeous. Every child just stops and looks at them. We are so lucky to have them.”

Kaly’s family also donated other materials for children to use at the library. “It was a beautiful donation and gift,” Swenson said.

Jamila the mascot should be ready to make her first appearance early next year.

Last updated: 9:16 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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