October 22, 2019

New West Branch District Library director eyes the future

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WEST BRANCH — After an approximately six-month stint without a director, the West Branch District Library has a new one in John Sheridan after he signed on May 30.

Sheridan said he has worked in libraries for about 27 years, with his career spanning four libraries. Most recently he was the director of Vicksburg District Library.

“I didn’t mean to go into library science (originally),” he said. “My major in college was history, and I wanted to work in an archive, but you have to have a library science degree and archival certification. ... I just stayed in libraries — I kind of stumbled into it.”

Sheridan took most of his library science classes at Saginaw Valley State University through a Wayne State University program, and obtained his master’s degree while director of the St. Charles District Library.

While he retired from the Vicksburg library, he said he applied for the position at West Branch after getting bored in retirement. The location is also closer to Birch Run, where he travels to take care of his family property.

Sheridan said he likes the city of West Branch so far.

“It’s a great little town,” he said. “Everybody’s very welcoming and I’m very pleased. I went around town yesterday and met people. It’s a good little town.”

As director, Sheridan already has several ideas in mind of what he can improve at the library.

“They have a very large meeting room and I’ve got three or four ideas for some programs that, working with staff, we might be able to organize with different institutions in the town. ... Kind of basic and simple things but really good things that will help the people in the community.”

For an example, he said he recently met the county’s Michigan State University Extension director and talked to her about the possibility of doing programming about nutrition over the winter months.

One thing he particularly wants to focus on is the improvement of technology in the library.

“Our computers are rather old here at the library,” he said. “I’m going to put together a tech plan, so we can phase in new computers, four or five at a time, so we always have new technology. It’s easy to forget how quickly time goes by.”

He also plans to review the policies and procedures manual, which must be updated every five to 10 years. In doing so, he can familiarize himself further with the library.

“By reviewing that I’ll get to know what’s expected here at the library and everything else,” he said.

Sheridan said he’s enthusiastic about his new position.

“I’m excited to be here in West Branch, and I’m looking forward to getting things running smoothly, as they’ve been out of a director for six months, making it a place people want to come to when they’re in West Branch,” he said.

Sheridan started as director June 3.

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