The Kent District Library (KDL) Lowell Branch Manager Heather Wood-Gramza will be leaving Englehardt Library to head to Zeeland. There she will be the Director of the Howard Miller Library and Community Center in Zeeland. Those wishing to say see you soon to Heather are invited to attend a gathering from 3pm-5pm this Friday, October 19.
Taking on Involvement in Another Community
One of Wood-Gramza’s accomplishments during her three years as Branch Manager in Lowell was immersing herself in the community. She has taken pride in making connections throughout the community with seniors, students, non-profit organizations, and city government and looks to do the same in Zeeland.
The Howard Miller Library and Community Center in Zeeland is where Wood-Gramza will start the next chapter in her career within public libraries. She will take on the Director role where she will be working on team building, procedures and policies, programming, and becoming engraved in the community. Her take on the position is learning as much as she can about the community and those within it as a means to come up with ideas to make the library better. She will take her KDL experience piloting programs, empowering those around her, and vision for the role of public libraries now and in the future, and other skills to her new position. Her goal is to take the community’s vision for the future of the library and work toward that goal.
Accomplishments in Lowell
Prior to becoming the Branch Manager in Lowell, Wood-Gramza worked at KDL’s Spencer branch. There’s a long list of accomplishments which could be listed for her time in Lowell. One she is most proud of is creating the concept, piloting, and rolling out district-wide GO! Packs, which are aimed at providing activities for individuals and groups to check out. First piloted at the Spencer branch and rolled out to all buildings in May 2016, the concept was one of Wood-Gramza’s “What If?” ideas as she calls them. Board games, crafts, and other items can be checked out for three weeks at a time. Each branch has a different selection of GO! Packs.
Building upon the “What If?” concept, Wood-Gramza takes it a step further by listening to ideas and dreams of others and empowering them as best she can to set and accomplish goals. For her, a leader listens, directs, and helps while giving power to others to succeed. She feels the staff at Englehardt are in the best place they can be in terms of welcoming a new leader. She also feels that through her connections with people and organizations in the Lowell community, the branch has become, and will continue to be, a key player in community support and future development.
Working with groups in the community to move projects forward is another highlight to Wood-Gramza’s time in Lowell. She has collaborated with Friends of the Englehardt Library, the City of Lowell, Lowell Rotary, Flat River Outreach Ministries, and Senior Neighbors to name a few. “I love seeing people come together to share ideas.” says Wood-Gramza. Programs outside of the building which houses the branch have benefitted countless people of all ages through networking, sharing of ideas, and looking to meet current needs while projecting those of the future. Improvements closer to home have included the outdoor chess board, deck overlooking the Flat River, and Friends of the Library Reading Garden.
What Could Have Been
Wood-Gramza leaves knowing Lowell has a great foundation for the future. And having a strong group leading all KDL branches meant she had to look outside the county to find additional opportunities. This isn’t a bad thing according to Wood-Gramza, who calls her move to Zeeland “bittersweet” saying she couldn’t pass up the opportunity for further growth in her career, but is sad to leave behind the community of Lowell.
While her list of accomplishments in Lowell is long, there are some things to which she refers to as her “dangerous ideas”, which sometimes turned into “What If?” concepts, including offering swan paddle boats available to be checked out and used to explore the Flat River. Had she had more time in Lowell, this could have been an “evil plot” in the making.
She also would have liked to look more into the idea of expanding the library. Through building an addition, she envisioned the added space for community use rather than providing the square footage to house more books. The concept of reimaging the working space in the library to include the ability to reconfigure spaces for those working, going to school, learning, reading, gathering, and more to usable space for whatever is needed at any given time is how she sees libraries of the future. A commercial kitchen was also on the list of additional amenities to the building, allowing vendors preparing for events such as Harvest Celebration or Christmas Through Lowell a space to make goods. The library should be a place one experiences and is eager to return to.
Libraries of the Future
Wood-Gramza planted seeds for future development of library programs, offerings, and concepts of the future. Her goal was to be as far ahead of the curve as possible, being able to offer things at a public library before demand presented itself. Over the past three years, she has shared her ideas and worked with the Englehardt staff to accomplish as much as they could as a team. Although the “boss lady” is moving on, her knowledge will remain with those she has empowered to use their skills to come up with their own ideas and see them through to reality.
Heather says she is proud of the Englehardt team and all they have accomplished. She is confident they will welcome a new branch manager with open arms and continue on making the Lowell community a better place. While her philosophy of leaving is such that if you’ve done a good job building a team your absence isn’t noticed, Heather’s smile, laughter, ideas, and everything else she brought to the Englehardt Library the past three years will be missed by all those she touched. Alto Branch Manager Sandy Graham will fill in at Lowell until Wood-Gramza’s position is filled.
Heather’s last day at the Englehardt Branch is Friday, October 19. A special reception will take place between 3pm and 5pm for those who want to wish her well on her next adventure.