Library Staff Spotlight

Foundation Newsletter Winter 2023 Spotlight

Tonya Miranda, Human Resources Technician

I grew up in Federal Way, Washington and have lived in Western Washington my whole life. After I graduated from high school, I moved to Bellingham to attend Western Washington University (Go Vikings!) and received a degree in English with a concentration in creative writing. After graduating, I moved to Edmonds and worked in the insurance industry for several years. An insurance brokerage I worked at in Seattle had an in-house library which sparked my interest in special libraries and inspired me to leave my job and return to school to obtain a degree in library and information science from the University of Washington (Go Huskies!).

While my career path didn’t lead to a position in a special library, I was able to apply the knowledge and skills I learned to my employment at the City of Marysville. While working there, I kept one foot in the library world by taking my daughter to story times when she was young, serving on the Friends of the Marysville Library Board for a five-year term and, of course, checking out many books. Two years ago, I jumped at an opportunity to contribute to the library world in a new way by applying for my current job as Sno-Isle Libraries Human Resources Technician, merging my work experience and my interest in libraries!

My favorite part of working at Sno-Isle Libraries is interacting with and assisting the folks who are applying for job opportunities as well as my friendly, talented, and dedicated colleagues. I have always been drawn to jobs that enable me to support other people. Sno-Isle’s commitment to excellent customer service and connecting people to resources, information, and services aligns with my personal values as well.

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my spouse and daughter, taking walks on our neighborhood trail or on one of the beautiful local trails in the area, practicing yoga, reading poetry (and occasionally attempting to write it), and attending musical theater shows and plays.

One little known fact about me is that I’ve eaten cold cereal to start most of my days since I could first eat solid food. I am also a big fan of all breakfast food which I would happily eat at any time of the day.

I’m currently reading The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin and Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World by Pádraig Ó Tuama.

Foundation Newsletter Fall 2023 Spotlight

Kathryn O'Brien, Library Associate at Clinton Library, Whidbey Island

I was born in New Jersey and moved to California in the late 1970s when I was eight. My mother had just finished her advanced librarian degree at Drexel University and was hired by Intel Corp to establish its first research library! My father was also a public librarian branch manager. I basically grew up in libraries. One of my earliest memories is hiding under my father’s desk at the library stamping something I probably shouldn’t have been stamping with the little date stamp librarians used back in the day.

I moved to Whidbey Island with my husband and two baby boys in 2001 and can’t think of anywhere on earth I’d rather be. The community is rapidly growing and changing, but still, I love its beauty, isolation, and proximity to mountains and city when they call. My family lives on a 5-acre homestead, half of which is forested with cedar, fir, hemlock, and other natives. The other half we have worked hard to create extensive food, flower, and pollination gardens. Our family utilized Sno-Isle’s Langley Library branch routinely over the decades for children’s books and services, as well as very large stacks of adult reading. The librarians knew us by name and it was there that I fell in love with libraries all over again. When commercial flower farming became too much, I returned to university and began my second career as a part-time page in Freeland, an intern in Collection Development, and later, taught part-time Agriculture and Environmental Science at our local high school. Neither of my parents would have believed that I, too, would obtain a librarian degree in the second half of my life! Since then, I have worked in various branches on the mainland and Whidbey Island.

Fast forward 10 years and I now work full-time out of the Clinton Library (Sno-Isle Libraries' smallest branch) thoroughly enjoying our local community, where I know many by name and as friends. My favorite part of my job is watching families grow and our community come together while creating engaging programming for all ages. Book groups, the Trudy Sundberg Lecture Series, Storytimes, Online Trivia, Whidbey Reads (now Sno-Isle Reads), hands-on workshops in the arts, technology, science, and nature fields, author visits, local field trips, organizing lectures with experts on topics that matter, the list goes on… My job enables me to expand my intellectual horizons, regularly acquire new proficiencies, and deepen my understanding of the world. Love it!

When I am not working and do not have my nose in a book, I usually have my hands in the garden (my solace and happy place), or you might find me working on some crafty project (I am currently enjoying Indigo dyeing), hiking in the Cascades or Olympics with my husband, or in the kitchen cooking up something delicious and healthy.

Some little-known facts about me:

  • I moved out at 16 and lived off-grid through my early 20s in the mountains of Northern California
  • I breed English delphiniums (my favorite flower)
  • I love to dance and was a tribal belly dancer for many years
  • I have two Master of Science Degrees

I'm currently reading These is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine: 1881-1901, Arizona Territories - a novel by Nancy E. Turner, and it is really good!

Recommended favorite novels:

  • Martin, Marten by Brian Doyle
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
  • The Wall by Marlen Haushofer
  • The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
  • Jimmy Bluefeather by Kim Heacox
  • This Tenderland by William Kent Kruger
  • Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

And don’t even get me started on gardening and flower books! But... I just finished this one and it’s a real treasure: The Cut Flower Sourcebook: Exceptional Perennials & Woody Plants for Cutting by Rachel Siegfried

Foundation Newsletter Summer 2023 Spotlight

Betsy Arand, Freeland Library Manager

I grew up in an Illinois town northwest of Chicago, when corn fields were just up the road from our house. The land was flat – not a hill or mountain in sight! I visited relatives in Port Angeles when I was young and fell in love with Olympic National Park. Even though I had a wonderful job as a librarian at the Evanston Illinois Public Library, it only took a 5-minute discussion with my husband to decide to apply for a job with Sno-Isle Libraries.

I remember the joy and feeling of accomplishment I experienced as a child in riding my bike to our small library. The library did not have a lot of natural light, except for the skylight in the children’s room. It was my favorite place to sit and read before checking out. The library had two cards – one color for a child’s card and a different color for an adult card. After reading every Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Cherry Ames, and Trixie Belden book the library owned, I discovered a display of Mills & Boone romance novels. Because I was not old enough to have an adult card, though, the librarian would not let me check any of them out for a couple more years!

I started working for Sno-Isle Libraries on October 1, 1990 as an Adult/Teen Services Librarian. Five other “levy-lid lift librarians” were hired at the same time, as Sno-Isle Libraries expanded the number of staff with MLIS degrees. I rotated time each week between the Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Freeland, and Langley libraries, answering reference questions, selecting adult and teen books, designing programs for teens, and promoting summer reading to middle school students at all four libraries. Oak Harbor’s current library was built in 1993 and I began working there as the first full-time Adult/Teen Services Librarian and eventually became the Assistant Managing Librarian. Although the Whidbey Island commute to Oak Harbor was lovely, I was excited to cut my daily commute to 12 minutes when I started working as Manager of the Freeland Library 14 years ago.

After receiving an MBA degree, my first job was working as a Public Information Officer for the Longview Public Library. When the library received a federal grant for a library demonstration project for Cowlitz County, my job changed, and I became the bookmobile supervisor for the project. After this project ended, I took a job as the manager of one of the new shopping center libraries for the Ft. Vancouver Regional Library system. When my supervisor said, “You know, if you like working in libraries, you should consider getting a library degree,” I realized I had found a great career and headed back to school one more time!

Some little-known facts about me:

  • I was the first female drum major of my high school marching band
  • The Cowlitz Library and Learning Services bookmobile had a “Red Zone” pass so we could keep delivering books to people before Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980 (I was reading Frank Hebert’s Dune the morning of the eruption and could see it from my balcony)
  • The choral group I sang with gave the first performance at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts when it opened
  • I learned to recite the alphabet backwards in the 6th grade, a skill that has come in handy in my library career!

In no particular order, these are some books I love to recommend:

  • Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown,
  • The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin,
  • The Dry by Jane Harper,
  • The Cold Millions by Jess Walter,
  • Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens by Steve Olson,
  • Swan Dive by Georgina Pazcoguin,
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson,
  • One by One by Ruth Ware,
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean,
  • and all of Louise Penny’s books!

Foundation Newsletter Spring 2023 Spotlight

David Adkins-Brown, Temporary West District Manager

I was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, and grew up in Albany, Oregon. I left Oregon to live in China off and on for about 13 years, came back to Alaska to be with family, and then moved here to Washington.

I was that kid who loved going to the library. When I was 5, I spent part of my birthday at the Albany Public Library but was pulled out of a fun Storytime and taken home immediately because my sister decided to be born right then. The nerve of her disrupting my library birthday! I love her a ton though and both of us love going to libraries just to relax, do programs, and browse.

I started working for libraries in Jr High as a teen volunteer. Later I took a college job working in Inter Library Loan and Circulation. Professionally, I started off in school libraries with my first library being for an Alaskan Native School. I joined Sno-Isle Libraries in 2021 as an Assistant Managing Librarian of the Mill Creek Library and presently, I’m serving as a temporary District Manager. I am also a professor for the Highline College/Seattle Pacific University School librarian program where I teach two classes: School Librarianship and Library Administration and Management.

Library work is something I was always involved in or close to. I keep asking myself if I chose it or if it chose me. One of my favorite library jobs is doing Storytime. My Storytimes have always been noisy with a lot of singing, dancing, and audience interaction. Some little-known facts about me:

  • My husband and I used to spend summers living on the Deschutes River out of a tent while working as river guides.
  • We have two corgis.
  • I have driven the ALCAN Highway (a.k.a. the Alaskan Highway) several times.
  • I have traveled to more locations in Asia than I have in the United States.
  • I enjoy cooking and will randomly make a Thanksgiving dinner.
  • I regularly go hunting for mushrooms.
  • I enjoy reading baking books and fully recommend Tartine Bread.

Foundation Newsletter Winter 2022 Spotlight

Tricia Lee, Assistant Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Development

Greetings! I’m Tricia Lee, Sno-Isle Libraries Assistant Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Development. I started working at Sno-Isle Libraries about three and half years ago after moving here from Colorado. Our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) team works to embed principles and practices of EDI into the fabric of Sno-Isle Libraries and the customer experience. I also work with our Talent Development Department providing learning and growth experiences to the organization. I’m incredibly fortunate to combine my passions of racial equity, social justice, facilitation, training, and libraries every day in my work. I appreciate the small and big moments when we move the needle toward a more equitable and inclusive world.

I have worked in libraries for over thirty years and much of that time has been dedicated to EDI work. My first memory of the library as a child was visiting our small neighborhood West Slope Community Library in Portland Oregon. I remember secretly creating book displays in the library by placing my favorite books face out on the top shelves (this was before merchandising was a thing in libraries). In my teen years, my family relocated from Portland Oregon to the mountain community of Evergreen, just west of Denver, Colorado. I struggled to fit in, and the library was a refuge that gave me access to a world that was bigger and more diverse. In fact, I spent so much time in the library, I was offered a job at my middle school library stamping date due slips (yes, paper date due slips!), typing cards for the card catalog (remember those?), and shelving books. I was hooked and continued working in libraries for the rest of my life in so many different roles.

When I am not working, I enjoy spending time at home with my family, including my spouse, three kiddos, ages 8, 10, and 13, and Jupiter, our Siberian Husky. Some little-known facts about me are that:

  • I sang in a band in college, took singing lessons for a few years, and still love belting out songs in my car.
  • I love exploring social media platforms on all things art, fashion, music, and design.
  • My first date with my spouse was at a corn maze and we have a tradition of visiting a corn maze/pumpkin patch every year since then. The tradition we started 19 years ago is now shared with our kids and extended family.

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