New community librarian likes what she sees in Morgan Hill
A native of Canada, Heather Ann Geddes has enjoyed her 15 years in California
Published in the March 15 – 28, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life
By Marty Cheek
Heather Ann Geddes wants to get to know Morgan Hill and learn what its residents might desire in the direction the city’s public library will be taking to serve it patrons. Two weeks into her job as the new community librarian, she’s impressed with what she’s seen so far of the library and the city that supports it.
A native of Canada, Geddes’s journey to becoming the new community librarian started at the University of Edmonton when she was a student. She especially credits her aunt, Audrey Holubitsky.
“She worked in libraries and she really encouraged me to get into libraries and work with the public and with the programming that she did,” Geddes said. “I found that I really loved it.”
After getting her degree, she found there were few jobs in the Edmonton region for librarians. Drawn by the idea of living in California where the coastal beaches and warm weather offered a different climate experience to Canada’s prairie province of Alberta, she applied for a job with the Watsonville Library and was hired. There was only minimal culture shock for her when she made the move to the Golden State.
“It was very different, but I came from a small town and Watsonville was also a very small town,” she said. “The people were welcoming and friendly so there was some common ground there. But it was exciting to go somewhere new and different.”
During her 15 years in Watsonville, she rose from librarian to branch manager to eventually the principal librarian. She also married and had two sons, now ages three and five. She and her family will continue to live in Watsonville, she said.
When Morgan Hill’s community librarian Peggy Tomasso left, Geddes applied for the job because of the high reputation of the library.
“I had a few co-workers who moved to the Santa Clara County libraries, and they all raved about what a great system it was to work in, how wonderful the staff were, how great the budget was, how nice the facilities are,” she said. “There are not a lot of opportunities that come up very frequently that are local, so the opportunity came up to work here in Morgan Hill and I thought it was worth putting my name in the hat for it.”
And on March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss, she sat in her new office with a reporter and told him how she felt at home at the Morgan Hill Library.
“So far it’s only been a week, but it’s been really fantastic, and there’s a lot to learn,” she said. “Everybody has been so warm and so welcoming.”
She’s impressed by the various community programs the library has built over the years. Morgan Hill’s children’s story-telling time and fun play activities such as the Lego hour are especially well done, Geddes said.
“The kid stuff is going gang busters. I was at the story-time today and there were tons of kids and parents and families there,” she said. “I was just so excited to come somewhere where that was really happening.”
Starting her new job, she wants to encourage the staff and community to present their ideas and suggestions to continue to build new activities and bring in guest speakers or create new series.
“My first plan is to really sit down and listen and learn from the staff,” she said. “Everything I’ve heard is that the staff just works together and they’re a great team, so really I’m coming in just to listen and learn and see what they’re doing and help them achieve their system-wide goals.”
Another goal for Geddes is to continue to do more outreach in the community. An important aspect of this is to encourage literacy in children and encourage families to work together to promote that opportunity for their children.
“Children really learn well and do well with literacy when the whole family is engaged,” she said.
Some of that outreach will be done with local schools, but she also sees the potential for partnerships with local nonprofit organizations depending on what the community wants and needs, she said.
She wants to expand on those partnerships and find out what the community needs and wants during the next several months.
“When people have busy lives and they’re working and raising children, it can also be hard to find the time to come to the library,” she said. “So if we can find ways to be meaningful in the services we provide outside of the library, that’s really important, too.”
The upcoming expansion of the library building now being engineered by the city will also help the staff build more programs and services for patrons, she said. The top priority of that expansion will be construction of a new children’s program room, which will open up the current program room by the entrance lobby for more speakers and workshops for adults.
Another area she wants to explore is better service to the Spanish-language speaking population of Morgan Hill and the South Valley with more programs and services designed for their needs.
“It’s incredibly important that you tailor services to meet all of the groups,” she said. “So programs and materials that are in Spanish are important here. We do have a large Spanish-speaking population.”
Geddes has only just started exploring Morgan Hill and said she’s impressed with the downtown and its many fine restaurants. She also praised the Centennial Recreation Center and the Dog Park at Community Park. And she’s sure she’ll get to know more of Morgan Hill and its people over the coming months.
“Morgan Hill seems like it is a truly wonderful small-town community with a lot of active people,” she said. “We have an amazing Friends group with the library and a number of staff who live here locally. I’m just excited to delve in and get to know the community.”