Francesca Wainwright, the Greenwood and Green Lake libraries branch manager, was promoted last month to Regional Manager for the North End libraries. Wainwright is now responsible for the overall management of eight branches of the Seattle Public Library: Greenwood, Green Lake, Broadview, Northgate, Lake City, University, Northeast (near Wedgwood) and Wallingford.
“I love getting to work with the individual branch staff to make sure they have what they need to do their job,” Wainwright said. “I’m a very social person. I love seeing the variety of people who come in that door every day, and I love the sense of connection with the community. People depend on us to have our doors open and be there for them.”
The Seattle Public Library system has 27 branches, which are divided into three regions: North, South and Mid-City. Valerie Garrett-Turner is the new branch manager for Greenwood and Green Lake. Garrett-Turner formerly managed the Douglass-Truth and Montlake branches.
Wainwright managed the Greenwood Library for more than 11 years, and loved spending most of her time on the floor, helping patrons.
“The thing I really enjoy about the neighborhood libraries is you really get to know people from the community that way. You become a part of people’s daily lives,” she said. “I feel really fortunate. I think if I didn’t work at the library I’d probably still be there every day anyway.”
Six months ago, she became responsible for the Green Lake Library in addition to Greenwood, when the library consolidated management.
“They’re both very different branches,” Wainwright said. “We have a brand new, ultra-modern one in Greenwood, and in Green Lake you’ve got this gorgeous, 100-year-old building that had been restored.”
Her office is now downtown at the Central Library, but she spends two or three afternoons a week visiting the North End branches.
“One of the really important things that we’re doing is trying to be more coordinated with how we provide programming to the community,” she said.
For instance, some libraries don’t have a children’s librarian. She wants to make sure that the libraries that do, share their expertise with the branches that don’t, making sure they have the right collections and mix of programming.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Wainwright said. “It’s definitely more of a coordinating role. Branch managers have a lot on their plate. They also have to deal with all of the building issues. Every branch has things that come up from time to time and issues to deal with, security issues, staff training issues.”
With the city’s proposed budget cuts for next year, the library is looking at restructuring its management, so that each library won’t have a branch manager, but there would be more regional managers responsible for four or five branches each.
“It’s quite a big change,” she admits, and she hopes the library doesn’t have to drastically cut hours or services.
“I think libraries are the one place where everyone in the community can go. It doesn’t matter if you can afford it. It doesn’t matter what your circumstances are, you are welcome at the library. You can access all kinds of information…and it’s free. It’s truly that one place where people can go and there’s a level playing field for everybody.”