By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA — The community will bid farewell this week to Judith Wines, library director at the RCS Community Library.
Wines has been with the library for more than seven years — she would have marked her eighth year at the library’s helm in October.
“Change is never easy, but I have taken a job with the Upper Hudson Library System so at the beginning of May, I will be the manager of adult and outreach services for them,” Wines said. “It’s always hard to leave a position, but I keep reminding myself that it was very sad when I left the job I had before RCS and if I hadn’t left there, I wouldn’t have gotten to come here.”
Wines’ last day is April 21.
“Change is hard, but change is often good, and I firmly believe that whoever the library board brings on will be able to keep on building and make the library even better, which is something that makes me happy,” Wines said.
Library patrons and local residents have been stopping by the library to share memories and wish her a bittersweet farewell over the past few weeks, she said.
“It has been really sweet having people come in the last couple of weeks, chatting and telling me how they feel,” Wines said. “I really appreciate people coming in like that.”
Over the past seven-and-a-half years, Wines has focused on bringing new programming to the library and says that has been one of her most cherished accomplishments over the years.
“We have really increased our programming,” Wines said. “I am proud of that for a couple of reasons. One is that with the switch to digital lending — for example, over 90% of the audiobooks that we circulate now are downloaded —there is less foot traffic that is collection-driven.”
Expanding programming maximizes use of the library by the community, she added.
“Pivoting to programs keeps the library space busier,” Wines said. “I have always loved programs and their ability to bring people in the community together. People will walk in and see someone who was, for instance, their mother’s best friend growing up, and those reunions and just seeing people makes you realize the library is not just a repository — it is a place where people can gain new skills and build stronger bonds with the community.”
Laurie Dickerson, president of the library’s board of trustees, said Wines will be greatly missed.
“Judith has given our community such a wonderful lift and helped create a welcoming atmosphere to everyone who enters that library,” Dickerson said.
The board has established a committee to find a replacement, she said.
“We have the search committee set up and we have a secure website where people are sending in resumes and we will start reviewing the resumes we have received after the deadline of April 22,” Dickerson said.
The next library director will be required to have a master’s degree in library science, be eligible for New York State Public Librarian certification, and have a minimum of five years of professional library experience, including three years of library administration or supervisory experience, according to the criteria established by the board of trustees.
“We will miss Judith very much,” Dickerson said. “She has been such a terrific leader and we appreciate her years of directorship with our library. We look forward to finding a different but also wonderful director in the future.
The Rev. Antonio Booth, a longtime member of the RCS Community Library Board of Trustees, said Wines has brought a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm to the library.
“We were so excited when Judith came on — she brought a lot of excitement to library services,” Booth said. “She did a lot of healing with the town and the village in terms of the various political leaders about library services. She connected us even more strongly with the school because the local elementary schools did not have a librarian, so they were able to tap into our library services. She brought a lot of innovative programs to the library and people were so excited to come to the library.”
While Booth is sad to see Wines leave, he said it was inevitable.
“She is such a brilliant person that it was only a matter of time for her to move on and do something else,” Booth said. “She has had an exciting time here and we all appreciate her so much.”
As Wines looks back on her time in the community, she expressed gratitude for the reception she has had from library patrons and the broader community.
“I have been super grateful for this opportunity,” Wines said. “I have met so many wonderful people and I feel like we have had a great team and have been able to build a stronger library — everything from our art displays to our collection sharing. The willingness of people in the community to share their talents with us — I have just been really lucky.”