She’d almost forgotten she applied for the job.
When she was in high school, Teresa Heidenreich applied for a job at the library at her grandmother’s urging. She was 16 and needed a part-time job. She was surprised when they called back and offered it to her.
Now, two decades later, she’s running the library.
Heidenreich became the director of the Washington Carnegie Public Library on Jan. 1 this year. The library’s board of trustees voted to hire her in September. The long-time director, Elizabeth Dowling, is semi-retired.
Heidenreich, 39, has worked almost continuously at the library since she was in high school, when she started as a student worker. She then attended Vincennes University, earning an associate’s degree in accounting. She worked in the accounting field for a year and said she wasn’t happy with it.
When a bookkeeping position opened at the library, Fay Willis, the library director at the time, contacted Heidenreich to offer her the job. Heidenreich did the bookkeeping on Saturdays in addition to her full-time accounting job. Then, another job opened up at the library. Willis combined that with the bookkeeping job to form one job and gave it to Heidenreich, who has been working at the library full-time since 1993.
“I’ve had every job we’ve had here,” Heidenreich said, “from clerk to adult services librarian to director.”
To achieve her goal of becoming library director, she had to earn her master’s degree in library science. She needed a bachelor’s degree first. She earned one in human resources from Oakland City University, taking night classes.
Susan Sullivan, an instructor at OCU, said Heidenreich was a very focused student who wanted everyone in her class to succeed.
“She loved a challenge and finding ways to overcome any hurdles,” Sullivan said. “I know she will do a wonderful job in her new position because she has a genuine concern for the individual."
After finishing at OCU in 2004, Heidenreich then made a weekly trek to Bloomington for four years to earn her master’s in library science from Indiana University, graduating in August 2008.
Working full-time while attending school continuously for several years was a struggle, she said, but she credits her family with support. Her parents helped Heidenreich and her husband, Doug, by baby-sitting their two sons, Douglas and Andrew, now 9 and 16, respectively.
After being a student for so long, Heidenreich is also a teacher. She teaches a few online classes for Ivy Tech, and IU has asked her to teach a grant-writing class this summer.
“I’m real excited to go back there in a different capacity,” she said. “It’ll be exciting.”
Her job as library director involves several duties.
“A lot of people think librarians sit around and read books all day,” she said. “I wish I could do that.”
Heidenreich said a library director works as an administrator who oversees the facility and supervises staff, in addition to preparing the budget and overseeing the finances. She said the director also functions as a community representative and spokesperson for the library.
Rick Chambon, an adult services clerk at the library, has known Heidenreich since the mid-80s.
“We have the same sense of humor,” Chambon said. “We enjoy working together.”
He said he is excited about her appointment as director.
“She has a lot of ideas for new programs and expanding services that will be a benefit to the community,” Chambon said.
Heidenreich, a lifelong resident of Washington, said the library plays an important role in the community.
“I never really thought about it till I got to library school, but libraries promote democracy.”
She said libraries and democracy are intrinsically linked since it would be impossible to have an actual democratic society without free access to information. She said libraries provide information required for citizens to make decisions.
Heidenreich said Washington was fortunate to have such a good library.
“It’s a beautiful building,” she said. “For a small community, we have a gorgeous facility.”
Heidenreich said her family uses the library a lot, with her sons checking out materials and joining reading clubs.
She described herself as an avid reader who likes romance novels, current non-fiction and biographies.
“You can travel the world within a book.”
She’d almost forgotten she applied for the job.
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