Elizabethton library welcomes new director

Published 8:15 am Monday, November 4, 2019

Ever since Renita Barksdale stepped down from the director position at the Elizabethton/Carter County Library in late June, early July, the staff have been searching for someone to fill the footprints she left behind. Bernadette Weese came up to the plate to fill those shoes with a smile on her face and a plan to spread that energy to as much of her community as she possibly can.

Weese is a five-year employee at the library, starting out as a clerk before quickly elevating to Patron Services Provider.

“This is something I always wanted to do,” Weese said about submitting her application in June. “I knew I really wanted it.”

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Despite this enthusiasm, she said a library was not the first thing she thought she would do after college. In fact, she said she was not sure what she wanted to do much at all.

Weese went to ETSU and majored in history and philosophy, which lent her few options for potential careers, mainly teaching. She said she did not want to teach, and so ended up working at the Jonesborough library about a semester before she graduated.

From there, she decided she really enjoyed working at the library, and so she went back to school to get her Master’s in Information Sciences at UT Knoxville.

“I love that libraries are here to help people,” Weese said.

She said her first day as Director was October 14, and while it has been a small challenge getting used to her new position, mainly in the concept of having an official office, she said her coworkers have made the transition as painless as possible.

“We have a really great staff here,” Weese said.

She said one of her main goals for the library is the outreach it provides outside its walls in downtown Elizabethton.

“I would love to use the library to be a more important role in the community,” she said. “You see a lot of people job-searching here. We have had job fairs. I would love to see more.”

This form of external outreach also includes partnering with other organizations such as Jilian Reece’s Carter County Drug Prevention, Elizabethton Parks and Recreation and more.

“This is the place where anybody can come to get the help they need,” Weese said. “It should be a place where people come when they do not know what to do.”