When Kathryn Feeley attended college she hadn’t yet decided on a career.
But Feeley, a history major at Michigan State University, enjoyed working in the university library, which was noticed by the librarian Tom Volkening.
“He said you could be a librarian and I said, ‘Wait, I didn’t even think about it,’” she recalled. “I thought I love my job here.”
After viewing the American Library Association website to search graduate school programs, Feeley decided to take Volkening up on his suggestion.
Last week Feeley brought her nine years of professional experience to Mount Kisco. She took over the library director’s post at the Mount Kisco Public Library on Feb. 25, after working the past several years for the Cleveland Public Library System. Most recently, Feeley was branch manager at two Cleveland libraries.
Mount Kisco resembles the small town of Milford, Mich. where Feeley was raised.
“I grew up using my library all of the time,” she said in her office last week. “When I graduated from Kent State University with a master’s in library information science I worked in a smaller system. So I always liked the fact that you kind of have a closer relationship with everyone.”
Feeley, 34, who filled the vacancy created by last year’s departure of Susan Riley, said she had traveled to the Northeast on vacations and liked the region. In fact, moving to this part of the country was a plan she had had for years.
“This was just the right opportunity,” she said.
The process of becoming the new Mount Kisco Library director was a long one. Feely was first interviewed for the post last July; the library board of trustees didn’t announce her appointment until last month. Feeley, who recently moved to Mohegan Lake, is earning a $84,000 salary.
“I really like the library system. I like the area,” Feeley said. “The staff was very friendly throughout the whole process. Working with the board of trustees was really great.”
During the hiring process, Feeley learned about the differences between Cleveland’s library system and how operations work in Westchester County.
“Libraries are completely different (in Ohio),” she said. “The board of trustees for the library is picked by the board of education from the school (district).”
In Ohio, about 80 percent of a public library’s funding comes from the state, while most of the funding for the Mount Kisco Public Library is provided by the village, Feeley said.
She’s been impressed with several of the programs offered at Mount Kisco, including the English as a Second Language and GED classes. Feeley said she will work to attract more patrons by “continuing to just provide programs and services that people want.”
Feeley also said she will be getting out into the community to get a better feel for what the public wants to see at their local library.
“My primary goal is to keep the library relevant,” Feeley said. “So many people say you have the Internet and you have e-books. Why do you need to come to the library? But it’s not just about the e-books. It’s not just about the Internet. It’s a sense of community. So it’s looking at how we can get people involved with giving back.”