WORTHINGTON - Sometimes, a person just has to pack up and move halfway across the country to accept a dream job. That’s what Marjorie Ferguson did.
The new director of the Nobles County Library had her first Minnesota experience when, in February, she was brought in to interview for the position. It was minus-15 degrees outside that day - a heatwave preceding a polar vortex.
It didn’t scare Ferguson, fortunately, as she’s now getting settled into her new role leading the staff at both Worthington and the Adrian branch library. Last week was her first week on the job, and a short one at that, as an ice storm knocked out power and forced the closure of county buildings Thursday and Friday.
It was yet another adventure for the West Virginia native who has called Kentucky home for the past 25 years.
Ferguson has experience both as a public librarian and medical librarian, and said after 15 years at King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, Ky., she was looking for a career that put her back in the public library setting.
“When you’re a public librarian, you’re dealing with anybody,” she said. “We’re here to serve anybody that comes through the front door - we’re a team.”
Her work in a medical library often had her doing research and finding materials requested by physicians, nurses, nursing students and families of patients. She also did peer-reviewed research for doctors. While she enjoyed the work, she missed interacting with people in the public library system.
“To me, being a librarian is a calling,” she said. “With that calling comes a level of trust that your community - your patrons, your customers - will put in you.
“There’s something really satisfying about being able to teach and show … in real time,” she added. “We have a chance to affect change instantly.”
Change isn’t something Ferguson plans to enact right away at the Nobles County Library. Though on the job just a few days, she has already seen how competent the staff is - especially in the four-month absence of a director.
“We are trying to do the best we can do to strengthen the programs and see as many people in the community receive our services,” Ferguson said. “The library is the heart of the community.
“It’s not just books - there’s nothing wrong with books, we love books - we’re here to serve and help. We’re everything from a meeting place to (a space where) children come in every day to use the computer, for reading or a hotspot to connect on. We’re multi-faceted.”
She is excited about the potential for a new library in Worthington, and said she’s aware of past studies showing the need.
“We need to expand our children’s space so they have more room for their programming,” she said. “We get a lot of pre-teen and teenagers from what I’ve seen, and it would be great if they had study space.
“We have eight computer tables. As everybody knows, we could easily double that and fill it every day,” she added. “It’s a space-related issue. A true computer lab would be nice.”
Outside space for summer programming for children is also a need, Ferguson said.
“You build a new library and people just flood in,” she shared. “We could go back to being the heart of the community. More groups would be able to use our space. It would be lovely.”
Ferguson said the main thing to remember is we’re all on the same team.
“We all want what’s best for our community - for our future and our children,” she said. “It’s important that we support that future, even if we’re not here for it. It’s a legacy we leave behind.”
The Nobles County Library in Worthington will host a meet-and-greet event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 22 for the community to stop in and say hello to Ferguson. The event is timed with the opening day of the library’s spring book sale, slated during normal library hours next week, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Reading is a prerequisite for any librarian, and Ferguson enjoys all genres. Her favorite author is Terry Pratchett, and she has a first edition copy of nearly every book he’s written. His novels, in the fantasy genre, aren’t something she’d normally read, but a suggestion from a friend lead to the discovery of the “wonderful writer.”
In her spare time, Ferguson also enjoys listening to music, MPR and travelling.
“Here I am in Minnesota and I don’t know a soul,” she said, noting her nearly 1,000-mile road trip to reach her new hometown. “I guess I’m adventuresome.”
As a new resident of Worthington, Ferguson said it’s going to be fun to get to know the people of Nobles County - especially with 81 different nationalities represented in the city.
“I’m thrilled to be here,” she said.