Katie Kraushaar never imagined that she would be employed at a library so close to her hometown of Warsaw.
The manager of information services at the Quincy Public Library has been at the library since 2004.
"Quincy was one of those things that just dropped into my lap as I was finishing up grad school at (the University of Illinois)," she said. "I was traveling back and forth so I could work part time at the library and finish my degree."
Kraushaar is involved with many facets at the library, from book clubs to meetings, programs, research and computer assistance. There is no typical week, though every Tuesday morning, she hosts "Book Notes" on WGEM-FM.
In her spare time, Kraushaar volunteers at the Quincy Community Theatre and is a member of the Quincy Symphony Chorus. Still, she admits she can't do everything.
"If I do a QCT show, I'm just doing the QCT," she said. "I'm not trying to do seven other events at the same time. I always try to avoid doing shows at the same time as the Big Read to make sure I'm not overloading myself."
Family: Parents, Tom and Marge Kraushaar; sister, Susan Aebel and her husband, Ian Aebel; nieces, Aemilia and Sabrina Aebel; and brother, Dave Kraushaar, and his wife, Tasha Kraushaar.
Education: Master's in library and information science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; bachelor of arts in literature, Blackburn College; Warsaw High School graduate.
Community Involvement: Volunteer and board member, Quincy Community Theatre; member, Quincy Symphony Chorus; YP Quincy member
What is your job, what do you do and what do you like best about it? I am the manager of information services at the Quincy Public Library. I am privileged to work with passionate, energetic advocates for literacy and libraries. My job is to supervise the reference desk staff and children's librarian, as well as the marketing and events staff. The part of my job that I like best is the moment when library patrons receive exactly the information, book, movie, CD, or experience that they needed. It may not be what they expected or wanted when they came in, but I always hope it was what they needed. Library staff -- clerks, librarians and support staff -- make a difference in our community every day. Everything that the library does is for our community, a collaborative effort to find ways to engage readers, watchers and doers. This can be done through the Summer Reading program, the Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, story times, puppet shows, lectures and movie series, delivering materials to patrons who cannot physically come to the library, Wi-Fi and computer access, study rooms, meeting spaces, and all the other services QPL offers.
What is a typical workweek like? The library is a wonderful, chaotic, inspiring mess of information. There is no such thing as a typical week -- although I do get to host "Book Notes" on WGEM every Tuesday morning. That is probably the most typical event I can look forward to. In any given week I have book clubs, patron questions, meetings, programs, research, book selection, computer assistance, troubleshooting, policy enforcement, but I make every effort not to ask other staff members to do anything I won't do myself.
What was your first job, and what do you remember about it? I think the first responsibility I was paid for was walking soybeans (pulling weeds) for my father and grandfather. I remember being really hot and itchy and making the decision that I was not going to spend the rest of my life working outside. There is no greater motivation for studying hard than knowing what kind of physical labor you can expect to do if you blow off school. Beyond that, I baby-sat, was an office assistant for a vet, and summer worker renovating/rearranging at Wal-Mart. With each of those jobs, I was more determined to find a (relatively) quiet, air-conditioned place to work.
How do you balance everything? I spend time with my family, talking, telling stories and laughing about life. Life is not easy to balance, and I try to be realistic about that when people ask me to take on another task. I cannot control what life and the library throw at me, but I can control my reactions.
Which person has influenced you the most and why? Not one person, but many. Besides immediate family, who influenced me plenty, I would say Julie Boll influenced my approach to being in the public eye. She encouraged me to work with "Book Notes" when Nora Baldner started the segment and strong-armed me into taking on the segment later. Her design, marketing and writing skills made the Library's involvement with the Big Read possible during some very busy years. Julie is a great friend who helps me with reality checks and perspective on the true size of my dragons. Rachel Peterson influenced me to be more fit; made me exercise, which also gave me a chance to get rid of stress in a healthy manner. She also honed some of my diplomatic skills and logical debate skills by being a good enough friend to argue with me. Her enthusiasm and dynamic approach to life could power a small city. David Smith, one of my college professors, was a great influence on me. He pushed me to dream bigger and made me laugh at the petty details that consumed me during those years. I truly think he dreamed more for me than I was willing to dream for myself. He shared his experiences in a way that helped me realize there was more in the future than I was planning for. He also encouraged me to travel, to relax and to step outside myself and see broadly instead of focusing on the small details.
Have you ever failed at something? How did you recover? I fail at something every week. The fail that changed my life the most was having to come back from grad school at Louisiana State University before classes started. It was the wrong place for me to be, and my body and brain rebelled. I had my first full-scale panic attack and decided I had to come home. How did I recover? 1) Hiding out with my sister for a few weeks until I recovered emotionally, and 2) traveling to see extended family and helping them prepare for graduations, weddings and reunions. I made other people happy by helping them, which healed me, too. I surrounded myself with people who didn't care if I failed -- the ones who loved me and supported me enough to believe I would bounce back and succeed.
What does success mean to you? Success is being able to know I can support myself and share what I have with others. Not just money, but sharing my time and energy, or sharing an experience with friends and family by being able to take time away from work.
What was your proudest professional moment? Every time the Big Read grant awards are announced by the National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest. These federal grants have had funding cuts again and again, but Quincy Public Library has received grants five times. (The first year we were part of the Illinois State Library grant.) For the 2013 grant cycle, we even received an increased amount. The quality programs and diversity of events we can offer are a testament to the library staff and to the Quincy community for participating, reading, and sharing their opinions about the diverse books we plan programs around.
What is your favorite stress buster/leisure time diversion? I read. No surprise, right? I also have friends who make me exercise and nieces who make me play and be creative. But my favorite way to unwind is reading.
What is the biggest need in your community? Respect and discipline. We live with the free-for-all of social media and 24-hour updates from the loudest voices. We need to respect our own intelligence and discipline ourselves to know what we truly believe and stand firm when others try to change us. We expect immediate gratification, but then are never truly satisfied because we do not have the discipline to control our impulses.
What gives you reason for optimism in your community? Watching the maturity and talent of the students I know from Quincy Community Theatre, Quincy High School, Quincy Notre Dame High School and the Library's Teen Advisory Board. They volunteer their time; they open themselves to new ideas and experiences. I am waiting to see what they will do, and how the world will change as they have more influence over it.
If you could go back in time and give advice to yourself when you were in high school, what would it be? Don't be afraid to get mad. Fight harder and stand up for yourself.
If you weren't working for the Quincy Public Library, what would you be doing? I have no idea. Librarianship was the goal from the time I was about 10 years old. Once I knew working in a library was an option, I was hooked. Unfortunately, I do not get to spend all day reading. There are hundreds of other duties in my job description, which is why I read to relax.
If you could add a few more hours to the day, how would you spend them? Sleeping!
Do you live by any mantra or saying? Subconsciously, I tend to follow the Golden Rule. I ask friends, family and new acquaintances to "Tell me something good" before they are allowed to complain. Or as "Monty Python" says, "Always look on the bright side of life!"
Career aspirations aside, name one thing you definitely want to accomplish in your lifetime. I want to travel to the countries my ancestors came from: Scotland, Germany, Holland and Switzerland. These cultures and places shaped my grandparents and parents, who shaped my philosophy and my life. I want to visit those areas and experience something that connects me to them.