After five years as the deputy director of the library and a lifetime in Carson City, Tammy Westergard is leaving for Oregon to take over as the director of the Jackson County Library District.
She will begin the job June 1, overseeing 15 libraries that serve about 200,000 patrons.
Starting out her career as a teacher then in public relations and serving as the deputy director for the office of business development, Westergard took the long way around to her career.
“I had no idea I was going to grow up to be a librarian,” she said. “But this is the world I belong in.”
The antiquated idea of a quiet room filled with only books does not fit her vision of what a library is supposed to be.
“It’s the only place you can go for free and have access to the tools and information that essential in the 21st Century,” she said. “It’s the only public civic space where everybody belongs. It’s not called the poor man’s university for nothing.”
She sees it as a place where patrons should be able to learn the latest technology skills and prepare for cutting-edge careers.
“I have the heart of a teacher in a library — and that’s the best of all words,” Westergard sad. “People come to the library seeking information. It’s our job to meet them where they are and help them learn. It’s immensely gratifying.”
The 1982 Carson High School graduate raised three children with her high school sweetheart and husband, Todd. She enjoys running, skiing and reading nonfiction.
In her tenure at the Carson City Library, Westergard was instrumental in forming partnerships with the Carson City School District and Western Nevada College.
“Tammy was instrumental in establishing the library as it is today,” said Director Sena Loyd. “She gave life to unused spaces, such as the Digitorium, and created new avenues for library outreach such as the BranchAnywhere at the Boys and Girls Club of Western Nevada.”
As part of those partnerships, she was able to secure a variety of grants, including a manufacturing certification training program and the adult computing center in the upstairs portion of the library.
“Digital literacy is the new literacy,” she said. “It’s all about socioeconomic status and accessibility. That’s why libraries are so vital. They bridge that digital divide.”
Ron Swirczek, president of the Carson City School District, said Westergard’s innovative thinking will be missed.
“Tammy’s not a mechanic, she’s an architect,” he said. “Actually she’s both.”
Westergard said she is excited for the new challenge and will maintain her home in Carson City.
“I am incredibly grateful for all the opportunities I have been afforded in my hometown,” she said. “I realize I stand on a lot of shoulders. I know that’s brought me to where I am today.”