As a child, it seemed apparent that Kristin Piepho was destined to become a librarian.
“My sister and I labeled our books with little spine labels and tried to put check-in and check-out cards in them so that we could start a library for our friends,” Piepho said.
She would have even included Dewey Decimal system numbers on the books too but “they were fiction, so it was by the author order instead,” she explained.
Although the neighborhood library for her friends never came to be, Piepho is living her childhood dream now – Piepho is in her third year serving as managing librarian of the Mountlake Terrace Library.
Although fairly new to Mountlake Terrace, Piepho is no stranger to the King/Snohomish County area. She grew up in south Seattle taking advantage of her family’s close locale to two different library systems.
“We lived sort of on the line in-between the Seattle and the King County Library systems,” she cheerfully reminisced. “So on good summer days we’d go to the Southwest (Seattle) Library and the White Center Library.”
After earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in library and information science from the University of Washington, Piepho worked for Sno-Isle Libraries in Mukilteo and Marysville, as well as the Seattle Library system before landing at her current position in Mountlake Terrace.
As Managing Librarian, Piepho is responsible for overseeing the library’s collection and information services, leading a staff of 14, directing library programming, partnering with other community agencies and resources, plus various other leadership tasks. But what may have drawn her to the position most was the opportunity to deal directly with library visitors on a regular basis.
“There are some people that love to work with the public and some people that are really good back in offices tucked away,” Piepho said. “I’m social enough that I like to work the desk; I like to help people out on the floor.”
“So when this job opened up,” she continued, “I decided that I would go for it.”
Since taking over the managerial duties at the Mountlake Terrace branch in December 2014, Piepho has grown to appreciate the unique spirit she has found in many of its local visitors.
“One of the things that I enjoy about the Mountlake Terrace community is I feel that there’s a sense of gratitude – not to say that other places aren’t grateful – but just for very simple things that seem like basic services,” Piepho said. “People are effusively thankful.”
Another unique aspect Piepho sees in Mountlake Terrace Library patrons is the variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds; “I appreciate the diverse diversity,” she summarized.
While some branches in the Sno-Isle Libraries system will concentrate their international collections on just a few languages, narrowing down the selection of materials to be made available at Mountlake Terrace is a bit more complicated. Piepho points to a third grade reading challenge event from two years ago to explain the diversity found in the community.
“One of the local teams that went on to the finals – among the eight kids, six different languages were spoken in their homes,” Piepho said.
“People are from all over, people come from different backgrounds, but seem to get along at least at the library pretty well,” she added.
Even after two-and-a-half years of managing the Mountlake Terrace branch, Piepho still exudes a great deal of enthusiasm as she shares about the library.
“We’re here, we’re open and we really want to help you,” Piepho said. “We want to help your kids get ready for school by having our story times – we’ve got excellent children’s programs. We’ve got a core set of business classes that are coming up. And, of course, we still enjoy doing things with our tweens and teens as well.”
The Mountlake Terrace Library is located at 23300 58th Ave. W.; for more information about the library and its programs, click http://sno-isle.org/locations/mountlaketerrace/.
–Story and photo by Doug Petrowski