The final word: Longtime Bainbridge library manager set to depart position

Challenges met, obstacles bested and victories celebrated, the story of the library manager — like those inked on the pages of the countless tomes that line the building’s shelves — is at last at an end.

Sort of.

Having successfully steered the Bainbridge Public Library through massive digitization projects, an epic remodel, the diversification of non-print offerings, and a recent taxing public levy campaign, longtime branch manager Rebecca Judd is set to leave the position she’s held for a decade.

“I was interested in, when the remodel was finished, what’s the next adventure going to be?” Judd said. “I talked to our library director and mentioned a couple of things that I was really interested in, and then one of those positions opened up.”

Judd thus accepted a promotion, and will be the manager of the Kitsap Regional Library collections and technical services department. Her departure will come early next year.

“It’s the department that orders all the materials for the library, whether it’s in print or online,” she said. “I’ll be going from a sort of Bainbridge focus to a county-wide focus.”

Judd’s replacement has not yet been selected, but she said library officials expect someone to be in place early next year, at about the same time she is set to move on.

“I’ll be here two days a week until the new person is hired,” Judd said. “I actually think it’s an ideal situation, to be able to kind of close this position up well and to be able to say goodbye to everybody I want to say goodbye to, and finish up some final bits.”

Bittersweet though her departure may be, Judd said she was eager to dig into a new realm of responsibility.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Judd said. “I have an interest in collections and how do we make the best collection we can for the county with the resources we have? Working on the remodel project here I just sort of honed that interest.”

However, the manager did say she’s leaving an enviable position on Bainbridge.

“It will be a very special job for somebody,” she said.

“The staff here is terrific. We have a great group here and we’ve all been through kind of a lot with the remodel, too, because we were open during the remodel. So this past year has been challenging, but also bonding.

“And the community,” Judd added. “We have lots of readers, people very involved with the library, a lot support for the library. Bainbridge is very fortunate.”

Looking back on almost exactly 10 years at the Bainbridge branch, Judd said she has several particularly prominent points of pride.

“I think the things I’m most proud of in the time I’ve been here have been this remodel project, but also I’d mention the digitization of the Bainbridge Review for the World War II years,” Judd said. “That took us a couple of years. And I think, between the crowd sourcing of the editorial editing work and the different components of bringing that from idea to reality, and then the impact that has — potentially the long-standing impact that digitization project has — I’m proud of that. I hope it continues to be useful for people.”

Working for the library was a calling Judd came to early on. She attended library school at age 25, and just recently reread her original application.

There’s not a regret in sight.

“It was interesting to read that application and think, ‘Wow, I really feel the same way I did 20 years ago,’” Judd laughed. “Which is a nice thing to feel. It’s a terrific field to be in. I’m proud to be in this profession.”

Though her commute will be a bit lengthier for the new job, Judd’s not worried. After all, she’s got access to an audiobook selection that would make most bibliophiles enormously envious.

“I’ve been putting my playlist together and thinking about what I want to listen to,” she laughed. “Right now I’m listening to the [NPR] ‘Fresh Air’ podcast, but the audiobooks will be next.”

What does the library manager reach for when she’s in need of something to read?

Judd said she makes a point to read the big selling titles of the year, to remain conversant, and also especially enjoys young adult literature, narrative nonfiction and biographies.

“Right now I’m reading a Bruce Springsteen autobiography,” Judd said. “‘Born to Run.’ I’ve got that at home. I’ve been reading more biographies lately.”

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