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Caribou library director leaving post this summer

CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou Public Library Director Anastasia Weigle will be leaving her post this summer as she takes on a new position at the University of Maine at Augusta as a professor in their online Information and Library Science program.

Weigle is no stranger to academia, or even UMA, as she has been teaching online classes for the college as an adjunct professor since 2000.

She said she informed city staff of her departure in late June, and that Caribou City Manager Dennis Marker hopes to hire a new director by Aug. 6. Weigle is confident that the current library staff, many of whom are cross-trained, will be more than capable of holding down the fort if a new director is not found by that time.

“People think I’m going to disappear, but I have a house in Limestone, and represent Aroostook County on the Maine Archives and Museums Board,” she said, “so I could see myself coming up here once a week to touch base with any institutions that want to help, plus I know I’ll be coming here to help with library archives.”

Throughout her career, Weigle has had to be mobile, and says she “won’t be a stranger to central Aroostook County at all” after her departure.

She even taught Presque Isle Library Director Sonja Plummer during her time as an adjunct professor, adding that “even back then in 2000, I knew she would go far. She was an awesome student, and it’s very rewarding to see students become so successful.”

Throughout her time at the Caribou Public Library, Weigle continued to teach evenings and on weekends. With her new position, she will be teaching four classes in the fall and spring, and will be an advisor for a large number of UMA students.

Since her first interview with city officials in late 2016, Weigle said she has been “very impressed with the staff.”

“They had a tight, small staff,” Weigle said, “and they were without a director for a couple months and still running this library on their own very nicely. It told me a lot about the people who work here.”

She added that she has enjoyed working with Caribou city councilors as well as the city manager.

“Some people think they don’t care,” Weigle said, “but they care very much. They just have a big responsibility to make sure they can meet the budget and keep the mill rate where it is, and sometimes that means making hard cuts.”

Caribou’s new library director Anastasia Weigle, left, started on Jan. 23, 2017. She is pictured with Erin Albers, the facility’s children’s librarian. (Contributed)

In spite of this, the library director said Marker and the councilors allowed her “to have a voice.”

“Any council will ask why you need something in your budget,” she said, “and if you can’t stand up and advocate for your program in a way that resonates or makes sense then, yeah, they’ll say no. I like when they push the envelope because it gives me an opportunity to show councilors that we are in line with their vision statement.”

That vision statement means the library does far more than simply offer books, but that it offers programs which spur economic development.

“A lot of people on the fringes don’t have access to computers,” she said, “and we allow them to apply for jobs or write resumes.”

Of all the people she’s met throughout her year and half tenure in Caribou, Weigle said she will probably miss Marker the most.

“I like his style of management and I like the way he leads,” she said. “He’s a good listener. When you talk to him, he’s listening. He is very good at measuring his words and giving you good advice. He is wonderful for the library and understands the library’s involvement in the community.”

Weigle said she is “honored” to have been the city’s library director, and that she has “met a lot of great people” during her time in Caribou.

“We actually see all of the city,” she said. “We see everyone from the well-to-do to the person struggling to find work. We get to take care of their needs and that’s something we are very proud of doing.”

The Caribou Public Library was the fourth library that Weigle has directed and her most challenging.

“It’s a small city, and a rural community,” she said, “and like most rural communities we have to find ways to get what we need by getting creative and writing grants, which is always challenging.”

Weigle added that before leaving she wanted to thank the community, the library’s staff, and city councilors.

“I’m very appreciative when people come in to use our archives and tell us how much they appreciate what we do,” she said. “I’m thankful that I had a chance to be here.”

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