“Eric, you landed in a good place,” that’s how Woodbridge School Supt. Dr. Guy Stella welcomed the town’s new library director when they were introduced to each other at the Town Hall recently. Eric Werthmann had just arrived in town in early April, and started his new job at the helm of the Woodbridge Public Library.
His latest position was as library director at the Acorn Public Library District in Oak Forest, outside Chicago, a much larger community than this, where he managed a staff of 25 and a budget of over a million dollars (the budget here, at $800,000, is not far behind).
Both he and his wife Sara Werthmann are Connecticut natives and they wanted to live closer to family, he said during a conversation in his office on the second floor of the library. Werthmann was born in Greenwich, but his family lives in Milford. He fondly remembers visits to his aunt’s house on Beecher Road. His wife grew up in Litchfield. An early childhood educator, she is finishing out the school year in Oak Forest, while he is staying with family for now.
“The staff is incredible,” he said of the local library staff, “and seems really close to the community”. One attraction for him was that “the community seems really invested in the library,” he said. He expressed gratitude for the staff’s welcome, in particular head Technology Librarian Lynn Serra, who had served as the interim library director, and for making the transition a smooth one.
The first challenge he encounters in his new job are looming state budget cuts, which, if passed, will curtail the inter-library loan as well as a cooperative purchasing program. At the same time the Friends of the Library, in the past generous sponsors of educational programming, are thinking about shutting down the Used Book Store, due to a lack of volunteers. In spite of these challenges, Werthmann aims to maintain the level of excellence that patrons have come to expect, and at the same time continue to innovate through introducing new technology and programming when feasible, he said.
Two summer programs were already in the works when he arrived, namely a community read dubbed Woodbridge Reads: One Book, One Town; as well as a big used book sale the first weekend in June. The book suggested for Woodbridge Reads is a non-fiction book by Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, in which she describes her family’s experiences when they decided to eat only locally grown food for one year. In conjunction with the book, the library will again be sponsoring an expanded farmer’s market this summer, as well as other food-related events.
Pictured are Lynn Serra & Eric Werthmann
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent