New Peters Township Public Library director Lacey Love is going to miss her former job.
“I loved Bradford. I loved working there. If I could have moved that library about three-and-a-half hours closer,” she said. “But long-term, I wanted to be closer to my families and friends.”
Love, a 2008 Fort Cherry High School graduate, returns to Washington County following six years as executive director of Bradford Area Public Library, which serves six municipalities and about 21,000 residents in McKean County along the New York line.
That’s roughly the same number of people who live in Peters Township, but the library up north covers about 10 times as many square miles.
“It’s very different from what I’m used to,” Love said about her career switch, “but that’s OK.
Love replaces Myra Oleynik, who retired in July as the Peters library’s director. Assistant director Sue Miller served in the capacity during the interim.
An avid reader, Love always has been a fan of libraries.
“I was the one who would show up with the big tote bag when I was in sixth grade and fill it up with books to take home,” she recalled.
She majored in English at Allegheny College in Meadville, but wasn’t too sure about what she could pursue with her degree. So a natural choice in furthering her education was earning a master’s in library and information science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Her first job afterward was fairly close to home, working part-time at Scott Township Public Library.
“I never had any intention, short-term, of being a director. That never even factored into any plans that I had,” she recalled. “I thought I would do adult programming. That’s kind of more where my interest was.”
Her interview process in Bradford, though, apparently went exceptionally well.
“I guess the library board there must have seen something in me and then thought that I had potential. And they were right. It worked out eventually,” Love said.
“But to start, I really didn’t have much experience managing people. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into,” she added. “The library was sort of facing a lot of problems that year that I inherited and got to handle, and they had had a lot of quick transition, one director after another after another. So I sort of just had to make it my own.”
That entailed her taking on responsibilities including preparing and maintaining a $400,000 budget, managing human resources and coordinating all fundraising activities, which are integral to the operation of the 501©(3) nonprofit library.
“I have an economics minor. That helped,” she said. In her master’s program, she took an administration and management class, learning about aspects such as budgeting and grant writing. Plus the Bradford library board’s treasurer taught Love a great deal once she decided to accept her new position.
Some of the goals she achieved in Bradford included expanding adult programming, adding a youth services librarian and business manager, developing a strategic plan, growing the patron base and extending more outreach to the community.
“I feel like I left it in a better place than I found it,” Love said, “and that’s because I had a really good team in Bradford.”
From what she has experienced so far, the same is true in Peters.
“That’s what everybody keeps saying, that it’s such a great team to work with here,” she said. “The programming, everything, it’s all great already. So I’m just excited to see what we can all do together.”
Unlike her previous library, which relies for the most part on fundraising proceeds and donations, Peters Township Public Library receives its primary support from the municipality.
“Everybody kept saying to me throughout the interview process that the library is one of the most valuable institutions in the community,” Love said. “And I totally believe it.”