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A new chapter at the library

Rebecca Judd has navigated tight budget times before.

The incoming branch manager for the Bainbridge Public Library said the system she worked for in Massachusetts had one-third of its budget carved away in 2003, devastating a bookmobile program that linked the library to rural towns.

Judd responded by founding a non-profit “Friends” group to help fund the library and get the program back on the road.

For Judd, it was an affirmation that libraries can serve as the core for a community.

“There was such a goodwill that people gave,” she said. “So it was good to give people an avenue to give.”

Next week, Judd will take the wheel of a library left well groomed by 16-year branch manager Cindy Harrison, but also feeling the financial hurt being shared throughout the Kitsap Regional Library system since a levy failure last spring.

KRL’s slimmed-down schedule took affect this week, a move announced last November to save operations costs.

Judd said she will need to find creative ways to increase capacity as the library continues to grow, while maintaining Harrison’s legacy of community service.

“The degree to which Cindy and everyone here has made this a community center is really unique,” she said.

Judd has spent her career working in community libraries.

The 37-year-old grew up in Carbondale, Ill., and studied classics as an undergraduate at Northwestern University.

At 25 she was ready for graduate school at Indiana University and decided to study library science.

“I liked the combination of literature and lifelong learning, and working around people of all ages,” she said.

In library school Judd studied collections development, library computer systems and management, which focused on community outreach.

She landed her first job working as a reference librarian in Bedsford, Mass., a suburb of Boston, for four years.

Then she was offered the position of director at a public library the small town of Pelham, Mass. Though it was a move to an administrative position, Judd said it was a small enough library that her job covered everything from managing the collection to recommending good reads, which she has always enjoyed.

“I’ve always done that at every job I’ve done, formally or informally,” she said. “Even at the grocery store or the bank people are always asking you for a good book.”

While in Massachusetts she handled the Massachusett’s Book Award for the state’s Center for the Book.

In September, Judd and her husband Larry moved to West Seattle to be closer to family. She plans to commute for her first year at the library before looking for land or a home to buy.

Judd said the Bainbridge was alluring because of its position in the community and in no small part because of its ornamental garden.

Judd said when she is not in the library or on the ferry, she plans to be tending to plants and improving her birding skills as well.

Harrison will stay on through the end of January to help smooth the transition.

Judd said stepping in for the library veteran and joining a ready staff has helped her bridge to her new job on the island.

“It’s really nice to walk into a situation where you feel like you’re carrying on that tradition,” Judd said. “I’m looking forward to seeing her at the library a lot.”

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