Susan Richardson, Red Wing Library Board member, is a strong believer in libraries supporting their communities by eliminating any reading barriers. Over the years, she has enjoyed working alongside the library staff to inspire others to pick up a good book.
The Republican Eagle spoke with Richardson about how her career started, what she likes about the board and more.
What inspired you to join?
I joined the Library Board in 2018, just as I was retiring from 24 years as a school librarian. I had begun my library career in 1980 at the Red Wing Public Library, so coming back as a board member felt like coming full circle.
What do you hope to accomplish for the residents of Red Wing?
A British journalist, Caitlin Moran, described public libraries in this way, “A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination.”
Our library strives to be all those things for the Red Wing community.
What is one particular topic/issue that you advocate for?
Library access for all. Our board seeks to eliminate any barriers to library use, including economic ones. We are proud to have recently become a fine-free library, following the lead of several libraries around the state and nation. The elimination of fines has led to the return of many patrons, greater circulation of materials and little to no uptick in overdue items.
What is one thing you like most about your job?
The people. The library staff is very talented and dedicated. The Friends of the Library support and promote the library and its services, and the Library Board serves as a strong and thoughtful advocate at city and county levels.
Our library enjoys a long tradition of strong community support, never more evident than in the appreciation expressed for the library’s ongoing provision of valuable services during the pandemic. Balancing the health and safety of patrons and staff with the needs of the community has been very challenging, but our library does this very well.
What do you do outside your job?
Reading and gardening are my favorite pastimes. Cicero wrote, “If you have a library and a garden, you have everything you need,” and I heartily agree.