Cape library board hires Katie Hill of Kansas to lead facility

Saturday, August 11, 2018 ~ Updated 11:23 PM
Cape Girardeau Public Library excutive director Katie Hill poses for a portrait Friday in the nonfiction stacks.

After a nationwide search, the Cape Girardeau Public Library has hired librarian Katie Hill as executive director.

Hill, who comes to Cape Girardeau from Coffeyville, Kansas, replaces Betty Martin, who retired earlier this year after directing the library for more than two decades.

“The board of trustees believes that Katie Hill will be a visionary leader for our library and a great asset to our community,” board president Amy Trueblood said.

Hill — who began her duties this past week — spent just under five years as a library director in Coffeyville, but said her love of libraries began years before, in the Library of Congress.

She’d harbored political aspirations as a young woman until an internship in Washington, D.C., included a training course for the Congressional Research Service, which produces nonpartisan research for legislators. Working in the Library of Congress, she said, was transformative.

“I got home after the internship and it was great, I loved it, but I realized something,” she said. “I am not cutthroat enough for politics.”

What she loved, she realized, was working in a library. So she turned the page, completed her master’s degree in Library Science at Emporia State University in Kansas and — after a stint as the director of the Overland Park Master’s in Library Science program — was named director of the Coffeyville Public Library.

Under her charge, the Coffeyville library implemented an RFID check-out system and began loaning out equipment other than books, such as Mi-Fi devices, both steps the Cape Girardeau library has also implemented in recent years.

“I was able to do a lot of big-city library stuff in a small-town community,” she said. “Their community and their board were ready to see their library grow and our job was to do what was necessary to make that happen.”

That kind of growth and initiative will be a large part of her job in Cape Girardeau as well, Trueblood said, and was a large part of what made Hill an attractive candidate to the board.

“Ms. Hill has the ability to further develop our library and build upon the foundation provided by the many years of outstanding service, talent and leadership of our retiring director Betty Martin,” she said. “We selected Ms. Hill because we have every confidence that she will continue director Martin’s innovative, service-oriented approach to the library.”

Hill said the first task will be to work with the board to complete the library’s strategic plan, in addition to getting to know the other library staff.

“The staff is wonderful here,” she said. “They know what they’re doing, and they do it well.”

The board of trustees will host a welcome reception for Hill from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Aug. 17 in the Library’s Oscar and Geraldine Hirsch Room. Light refreshments will be provided.


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Tyler Graef
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