Hortonville’s new library director
Martens has passion for literature
By John Faucher
Village Board Trustee and Library Board member Julie Vanden Heuvel announced that the library board selected a new library director.
Former library director Carolyn Habeck retired on Oct. 26.
“I’m very excited to announce we have a new library director selected,” said Vanden Heuvel to the board at its Oct. 20 meeting.
“The new director we selected is Rachel Martens, and that probably sounds familiar, yes she is Traci’s daughter,” said Vanden Heuvel referring to Village President Traci Martens.
She stated that the library board makes its hiring decisions autonomous of the village board.
“Traci was not involved in the process,” said Vanden Heuvel.
“Rachel was hired because is incredibly smart, qualified and professional,” said Vanden Heuvel. “She is going to bring a lot of programming to our library, and we welcome her.”
Rachel Martens is a 2012 graduate of Hortonville High School. She attended college at St. Norbert College where she graduated Summa Cum Laude in May of 2015. Martens completed a major in English and her minor in history.
The Press-Star had an opportunity to ask some questions to Martens during her first days as Hortonville’s new library director.
What influenced your decision to pursue that major/ career path?
“I have been passionate about literature, writing, and history since I was a child, so it was an obvious decision for me and one I am very glad I made. I loved my classes at St. Norbert College and count several of my professors there as friends now. If anything influenced me, it was the teachers at Hortonville High School who supported me through a rigorous course load and offered me great opportunities for independent study courses in history and literature. Looking back, I really started my college career as a high school senior and I have my teachers to thank for guiding me through that and encouraging me.”
Any previous library experience? Internships?
“I spent several months this summer as a substitute librarian at Black Creek Village Library and loved it. That was the first job I had where I really felt like I could do this for the rest of my life, which is why I applied for the director position here in Hortonville, where I could have a full-time career in a library.
“I have also held several positions outside the library world that I think prepared me well for this position, including as an assistant to a financial planner, as an administrative assistant at a veterinary clinic, and as an editorial intern for Fox Cities Magazine. Those experiences gave me skills in budgeting, customer service, and marketing that I am already using as a library director and I am very glad to have those experiences to look back on.”
Did you spend a lot of time reading or frequent libraries often when you were a kid?
“There was very little time that I did not spend reading when I was a kid. My mom read to my sister and I when we were very little and built up a collection of picture books for us. Once I was able to read on my own, I couldn’t stop. I was guilty on almost a daily basis of reading during class or staying up too late with a book and a nightlight. Books always took up a huge portion of my birthday and Christmas lists and I was a regular library user too, especially my school libraries where I could browse without my mom and sister tapping their toes.”
When you sit down to read a good book, what types of books do you enjoy?
“My favorite books are the classic Gothic novels, especially “Jane Eyre”, “Wuthering Heights”, and “Dracula”. I am also a hard-core fan of Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King. I love the haunting, lingering nature of a good horror work. I also have a special fondness for books with powerful endings, whatever the genre. “Animal Farm” and A “Tale of Two Cities” are two of my favorites thanks to their unforgettable final pages.”
How do you envision public libraries 25 years from now?
“Libraries are centers of information, cultural enrichment, and technological access and I don’t believe that will change in the next 25 years. Years ago, people thought that the rise of e-books would destroy libraries, but people still love physical books. Libraries will also always offer programming for their communities to enjoy and they will always offer a place for patrons with limited access to technology a place to enjoy that technology and the opportunities offered by it.
“The specifics of what collections we add to, what programs we host, and what technological upgrades we make will always depend on the needs of our communities and as those needs change, we will respond to them. So, I believe that while some of the details of what libraries offer may shift, ultimately the overarching function of libraries as cultural centers will not change.”
Any ideas or visions for the library?
“The librarians and I are already working on expanding our programming for all ages. We have several exciting programs coming up in November and December, including an art workshop to prepare for “Flood the Streets with Art” on Nov. 15, tours of local businesses, and a holiday crafting day. We will also be scheduling some new regular programming starting the first of the year and are reaching out to area book clubs to help them gather the books they are discussing and offer them a meeting space if they need one.
“I am working on a community survey we will be running in December to find out which areas of the collection are most important to our community that we can build on and also what particular programs they would be most eager to participate in. The results of that survey will determine a specific vision for the library. Generally, I envision a library that prides itself on offering new materials and exciting programs that fit the community’s desires and bring it together over books and dialogue.”