Two Woodburn-area public libraries will see staffing changes over the coming weeks as three key employees leave for other opportunities.
Mike Jansen, the Woodburn Public Library's children's librarian, will be leaving on Sept. 15. Carrie Caster, director of the Mount Angel Public Library, will work her last official day on Sept. 1, although she will stay on after that to train her replacement. And Stephanie Laing, the youth services librarian at the Mount Angel Library, served her last day in mid-August.
The city of Woodburn has started the hiring process for Jansen's replacement and the city of Mount Angel is working to hire Caster's replacement, although it will hold off on hiring a new youth services librarian until the new director is in place.
The Mount Angel Library will be closed from Sept. 5 to Sept. 15 as it hires and trains its new director.
All three employees have become well-known faces at their respective libraries.
Jansen began at the Woodburn library in 2015. Since then, he's been integral in facilitating its outreach programming, its story time sessions and its summer reading program.
"We had a really good turnout for that," Jansen said of the summer reading programs he oversaw. "That's really important that the kids are reading during the summer, and it's nice to provide that."
Jansen is leaving to work as a substitute teacher for Portland Public Schools. He said he'll miss reading at the library's story times and watching the library's young patrons grow up.
He's not involved in the hiring process for his replacement, but he said he hopes the next children's librarian will continue to provide the same outreach services, especially to the Woodburn Head Start program.
At the Mount Angel library, Caster has been director since 2014. In her time as director, the Mount Angel Public Library dramatically increased its patronage, program attendance and the number of patrons that visit each year.
In 2016, Caster said the library had 16,500 patron visits — a 28 percent increase from the year before.
And the library made an effort to offer more programs to patrons. Caster said the library offered 254 programs for patrons of all ages in 2016. In that same year, 3,249 people attended library programs, which Caster said was a 97 percent increase from the previous year.
"For our small library that only had a library director of 30 hours, a youth services librarian of only 28 hours and a library assistant of five hours, that's pretty amazing we were able to present that many programs," Caster said.
Caster also said she was proud of the library's expansion of the summer reading program, which now allows people of all ages to sign up, including adults.
"We've been really, really busy," Caster said. "We try to try a lot of different things and be as innovative and welcoming as possible, and I think we heard a lot from our patrons that they really liked the spirit of fun and welcoming that we've tried to provide. That it's more than just a collection of books — it's a cultural center, it's a community center."
Caster said she is leaving her position in order to assist her family with some projects, including with property management. She will remain in the area, living in Silverton with her family.
"It's definitely bittersweet to step away from the library field that I've worked really hard in over these last 12 years," Caster said. "I'm going out on a high note. After three fantastic years at Mount Angel we've done amazing things."
Laing, the Mount Angel youth services librarian who began in 2015, was credited by Caster as playing a big role in the library's recent growth.
According to Caster, Laing was instrumental in starting the library's Teen Advisory Board and helped start events like a stuffed animal sleepover and a teddy bear tea party.
Laing also worked to add an early literacy computer to the library's children's area, which is loaded with literacy games in both Spanish and English.
Laing also worked to revamp the teen section of the library, making it more welcoming and adding interactive features like a white board on which patrons can write their thoughts. Through her teen outreach, Caster said Laing helped increase the number of teen participants in the summer reading program from about a dozen to about 75 kids.
In 2016, the Oregon State Library honored the Mount Angel Library for its 2015 summer reading program, naming it as one of the state's top five "outstanding projects." Laing and Caster accepted the award. In the summer of 2015, 82 percent of the program's participants reached their reading goal — compared to the state average of 33 percent.
Laing left her position in mid-August to return to her home state of California, where her husband has a new job.
"We're so sorry to see her go," Caster said. "I think the next person in that position has some big shoes to fill."