Woodstock Library trustees have appointed Ivy Gocker as the new director of the Woodstock Public Library to replace Jessica Kerr, who can no longer commit to a full-time schedule due to injuries sustained in an automobile accident. The vote was unanimous to choose Gocker among three candidates. She starts December 1 at a salary of $70,000, the amount that was budgeted for 2022. Kerr will stay on part-time at least through December to help with the transition.
Gocker is a Wisconsin native with three children, ages four, two and one. She worked in the Brooklyn Public Library system, first as youth librarian and eventually was promoted to head of special collections. Gocker and her husband decided the city wasn’t a place to raise children, so they moved to the Adirondacks, where she became the library director of the Adirondack Experience Museum in Blue Mountain Lake.
“The trustees liked that Ivy and her family reflect the demographic of the recent arrivals in Woodstock,” said Personnel Committee Chair Dorothea Marcus. “She will bring fresh eyes to the job and hopefully the library’s new location — she thinks in broad sociological terms and is adept at forming alliances with various types of organizations. She seems like an excellent fit for the staff, the patrons and the community at large.”
Gocker is no stranger to Woodstock, having visited the area many times as a getaway from the city. “I’d like to get to know it as a member of community, and not just as a visitor,” she said. “I’m thrilled to be joining the Woodstock community as Director at the Woodstock Library. I’ve long admired Woodstock as a vibrant hub of creativity and natural beauty, and have visited many times, enjoying your great hikes and local music scene…I look forward to forging a much deeper connection to your town through essential public library service. I’ve been working in libraries for 14 years, and I know first-hand the importance of libraries as a source of information and inspiration, and as a vital gathering place for healthy communities. I can’t wait to meet you all.”
Gocker noted that despite technological changes, the library is still an important resource. “Today, so many things have become a part of the virtual realm. The truth is libraries still provide essential services to people who need them,” she said. With so many people working remotely, libraries continue to be an important resource for many who don’t have a computer or an internet connection, she noted.
Gocker said she became interested in working in libraries because she always liked English. She landed her first job at the Brooklyn Public Library because they were having a job fair to try and fill a lot of vacancies. They even helped employees pay for their master’s degrees.
Gocker recalled being amazed they would actually pay her to play Scrabble, but she soon realized it was more than just a game. The library was near a community of recently arrived immigrants and Scrabble was a way to get them acclimated to the English language.
And in some ways, Gocker will be spending the next month getting acclimated to the community where she will start her new job. “Starting out, I’m just going to be meeting as many people as I can,” she said.
Gocker is not going to reinvent the wheel, but she will be looking for where there may be gaps in service and programming and make ongoing improvements.
She’ll also be spending time looking for a new place to live. In the meantime, she and her family will be renting a place in Hudson, which is close to her husband’s new job as a library director in Catskill. When she starts in December, she’ll be renting a place in Woodstock.
Kerr offers support
Kerr said she hopes to continue to help the library in any way she can.
She begin her career in Woodstock in 2010 as head librarian. She was interim director for about six months in 2015 after director Amy Raff left.
Kerr started programs including Tech Help and a knitting and crochet group. Recently, she secured a New York State Documentary Heritage Preservation Services assessment grant. She drafted budgets with zero tax increases for two consecutive years and persevered through a referendum to dissolve and terminate the library district in 2018.
“I love the people of Woodstock and I love my work at the Library. I have been blessed with a wonderful staff and board,” Kerr said. “There is much work still to accomplish in the preservation and sharing of the Library’s archives, technology, programming and outreach, as well as the possible move to Dixon Ave. I will do everything I can to support Ivy Gocker as new Director and ease her transition.”