For Amelia Speight, it’s a promotion at a place she’s known her entire life. For Jenna Assmus, it’s a new job in a new city.
Speight is the new circulation supervisor at the Monona Public Library, replacing Ronda Pettey-Kucher, who retired at the end of July. Assmus is the new adult services coordinator, a change in title from the former information service coordinator role held by Toni Streckert, who retired at the end of May.
Both have been on the job about a month or so.
“The thing that led me to this job was knowing this library my whole life, being a volunteer here since I was in sixth grade and then working on the front desk, and working here with such a great team of people,” Speight said.
Previous to being hired in her current role, Speight worked 18 months as a library assistant at the front desk. Her previous experience includes being a barista and, as college student, supervising a small staff in the summer housing department.
Assmus, who already lived in the Madison area, spent the last four years as director of the Rio Community Library in Columbia County.
“I got a real wide breadth of experience working there,” she said.
Prior to her library experience, she attended graduate school in Madison and worked in nonprofits, natural resources and public education. She was also involved in volunteering and fundraisers.
“The thing that really excites me about working here in Monona, and just working in libraries in general, is libraries are really a reflection of the community that they serve,” Assmus said. “Libraries really get to look at the needs and resources and aspirations of the community they serve and figure out how to respond to that, be a part of that.”
As a library director, she knew Ryan Claringbole, the library director in Monona. Assmus is also excited to work closer to home, being part of a bigger staff and focusing her work in the area of adult services.
Speight trained with Pettey-Kucher for a few weeks before the latter’s retirement, and Assmus met with Streckert to talk about her position. Both said the experiences were invaluable.
“What’s really a blessing about being the supervisor here is that many of the folks who work here have worked here a long time,” Speight said. “Not only that, but they are really invested in the Monona community and the Monona library and take very personally the work that they do. That makes for such a strong team.”
She also appreciates Assmus and her fresh view of the library and critical eye as a former director.
Assmus has already met with many partners of the adult programs and is already making plans for fall events. She has reached out to organizers of the Momentum Urban Arts Fest, which will be held Saturday in Monona and Madison’s east side.
“We’re going to have some artists that will, in addition to their outdoor piece, create a smaller piece that we can then display at the library,” Assmus said.
Claringbole is enthusiastic about both new hires and emphasized that the greatest asset of any library is its staff.
“For both positions, we had great candidates we interviewed,” he said. “Both Amelia and Jenna showed that one, they had the enthusiasm to really tackle both positions and know that the people before them had established some great things and they can build on that. They would be a great fit within the library and also the community itself. Andy they both surprised me with pointing out things with the library … that I hadn’t noticed.”
Having worked for Claringbole the past 18 months, Speight has recognized one of his key leadership traits.
“I also feel lucky that Ryan is also pushing the library to grow,” she said. “I wouldn’t say that creates challenges; it creates opportunities for us to take on big projects and make sure that we are always at least discussing big ideas.”