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Leading the 'heart of the community'

New Red Wing library director Jessica McGee began work on July 8. She said so far she has enjoyed the city and the work here. (Republican Eagle photo by Danielle Killey)

Jessica McGee knew what she wanted when she was looking for a new job.

"I had a list of requirements for the cities," McGee said, adding she wanted a good area for her family, including her 3-year-old daughter. And when she found the open library director position in Red Wing, "it ticked all the boxes."

McGee started her work as the new Red Wing Public Library director on July 8. So far she said everything is running smoothly and she is enjoying both her work and the city.

"Everyone's been fantastic," she said. "Everybody is so friendly."

This is McGee's first time working as a library director. She said it will involve more administrative work than in the past, but otherwise library systems run relatively similarly and she expects a relatively calm transition.

McGee said she wants to make improvements at the library, such as more marketing of the services available, but overall hasn't found a lot to work on yet.

"I'm still exploring. I want to find out what the needs are," she said. "But it's a really well-run library. ... It's hard to find someplace to improve it."

She said print books will always be important, but she also wants to bolster ebook awareness and use in the area.

McGee worked at a library throughout college and went on to teach for two years before deciding advice she got from her dad was right - she should go to library school.

Before moving to Red Wing, McGee worked at the Granville County Library System in North Carolina.

She also worked for the North Carolina Supreme Court Library and in libraries in the United Kingdom and Belgium.

She came across the Belgium job, located on a NATO base, online. Coming from a military family, she knew those civilian jobs were available.

"I knew I wanted to go to Europe and explore it, but I didn't want to do it in a week," she said.

Sometimes the families who came to the library didn't speak English, and she would have to help them "without speaking, basically."

"It was a unique challenge," she said. "But it was a really amazing experience."

She enjoys helping the library visitors, McGee said, and she values the role of the library to help people find information, to help answer questions and to guide area residents.

"If someone doesn't have something, we're here to provide it," she said. "I see the libraries as being the heart of the community."

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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