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Shelby Township

New director, new website, new look

Library’s new leadership looks to advance the institution

July 30, 2014

» click to enlarge «
Katie Ester stands in the Shelby Township Public Library July 22. Previously the coordinator of adult services at the Southfield Public Library, Ester began working as the Shelby Township Public Library director June 2.

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Katie Ester, of Birmingham, has been on the job as the Shelby Township Public Library’s director since June 2, and she is making headway on a couple of items she deemed critical.

Work is underway for a complete overhaul of the library’s website, and the interior of the library soon will receive a facelift. Plans call for painting, replacing broken ceiling tiles, fixing the peeling wallpaper and installing light panels.

She said she spent the first few weeks getting to know the staff through 30-minute, off-site, one-on-one meetings and then focused on the website and building. 

Through generous funding from the Friends of the Library, the website will feature interactive elements, one-stop shopping, fine payment options and integrated social media. In partnership with the Parks, Recreation and Maintenance Department, the internal repairs will fit the library’s slim budget.

“I have never worked anywhere where things have worked so smoothly,” Ester said. “I’ve found really the right library for me and a fantastic staff and a lot of potential. This place is a little jewel, and my job is to polish it.”

She received the Board of Trustees’ approval to purchase five new computers to replace the five oldest computers in the library’s system. In the fall, Ester said the library would be rolling out new adult programming.

Ester, who previously worked as the coordinator of adult services at the Southfield Public Library, said she was searching for a suburban library with a hometown feel where she could get to know patrons intimately.

“(The Southfield library) is really big, and thousands of people come through the door every day. It’s hard to make that connection in a library that big and busy. I was looking to find that again, and it’s definitely what I found here.”

Ester joked that she knew she wanted to be a librarian ever since her parents wouldn’t allow her to get a job at the Dairy Mat in downtown Birmingham when she was about 14 years old. She said they felt it would be unsafe but offered her the option to get a job at the nearby Baldwin Public Library instead.

“I think, from the time I started as a shelver, I knew I wanted to be a director someday. It was just a matter of putting in my dues in different departments and different levels, and learning what I could about being a manager and managing people and being a good coach and leader,” she said.

She studied English literature and philosophy at Oakland University and received her Master’s of Library Science from Wayne State University.

Supervisor Rick Stathakis said Ester is tenacious on detail, great on budget and fits in well with the other township department heads.

“She’s got a genuine understanding of that library and where she wants to take it, but it’s not just tactical. She’s also a visionary,” Stathakis said. “She’s got a great balance, and she’s got the skill set we need to improve (the library).”

Ester filled a vacancy created in March when former library director Dale Parus resigned for personal reasons after five months on the job. She was in the running for the position in October 2013 with Parus and another candidate, and, although she was the top-rated candidate by an external board of directors, she snagged the position the second time around.

“I got a library that cares as much about its patrons as its patrons care about their hometown library,” Ester said. “I have a wonderful staff that’s been really warm and welcoming, and has proven themselves really dedicated and focused on patron service.”

About the author

Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik covers Shelby Township and Utica for the Shelby-Utica News. Sarah has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2013 and attended Oakland University. She won a first place 2013 Excellence in Journalism award for open government reporting and a second place 2014 Excellence in Journalism award for a series of explanatory stories from the Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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