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Dassel resident is the new head librarian for three area libraries
Feb. 7, 2011

By Jennifer Kotila
Staff Writer

DASSEL, MN – Beth Cronk, of Dassel, who has worked part time at the Litchfield library for two years, has been selected to be the head librarian for the Dassel, Litchfield, and Grove City public libraries.

Cronk graduated from Dassel-Cokato High School in 1989, and received a bachelor’s degree in English at Augsburg College.

She is currently working on her master’s degree in library and information science through online courses at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

While attending Augsburg, Cronk was nearly completed with all of her classes for a bachelor’s degree in education when she realized it was not her calling to be a classroom teacher.

It was through her work study job at Augsburg that Cronk found her true calling when she was trained to be a reference librarian at the college, she said.

Augsburg’s library had started a program to train students as reference assistants during Cronk’s second year of service there, and she was one of the students chosen for the opportunity.

She completed a course to provide reference services and was trained by professional librarians on staff.

“Helping patrons find the answers to their questions is my favorite kind of work,” Cronk said.

She worked as a reference librarian at Augsburg during her last three years of college.

After graduating, Cronk was hired by the corporate library at Northwestern National Life, which later changed its name to ReliaStar Financial, in Minneapolis.

She began as a library technician, managing the subscriptions, keeping the library tidy, and answering basic reference questions for the entire corporation.

Later, Cronk was promoted to the position of information specialist, where she spent most of her time conducting research for clients throughout the company, she said.

While most of her research was done electronically through paid services such as Lexis/Nexis, Dialog, and Medline, she also spent a lot of time digging up information at the Minneapolis Public Library downtown.

“The focus was business, financial, legal, and medical information, and I especially enjoyed doing medical searches,” Cronk said.

She continued working in that position until her first child was born, when she decided to take some time off and focus on her children.

It was three years ago that Cronk moved back to her hometown with her husband, Ken, and their children, William, Sara, and Caroline, after building a house in Dassel.

Over the last two years, Cronk has enjoyed learning how to work in a public library, which is a little different than working in an academic or corporate library.

“I had never advised anyone on finding a good book to read in my other jobs,” Cronk said.

For the last year, Cronk has been the Meeker County legacy program coordinator for the public libraries, booking performers, authors, and other programs at the libraries.

As the head librarian, Cronk is responsible for the budget, scheduling and hiring staff, and ordering books for the library (except for children’s books, which the children’s librarian orders).

“I’m excited about managing the library’s collection – deciding what books to order or get rid of,” Cronk said.

Visions for the Dassel Public Library

“I’m excited to be in charge of the Dassel library. I knew Gladys Paulson well because I was here all the time as a kid,” Cronk said. Paulson was the Dassel librarian at that time.

She would like to spend more time in Dassel to see how things are running, and how people use the library, Cronk said.

“Early childhood literacy is so important; I would like to start story hour in Dassel again,” Cronk said.

Another goal is to start some computer classes. “Senior citizens use computer classes a lot to become more familiar with computers,” she said.

Cronk reminds people that even though the Dassel library is small, it has access to numerous resources, and people can order things from throughout the state.

Cronk is looking forward to working with the Dassel Area Friends of the Library and other community groups to become familiar with the resources people would like to see in their hometown library, she said.

Cronk encourages anyone who has suggestions to call her, at (320) 693-2483, or email her, at litch@litchfield.lib.mn.us. She will be spending the majority of her time at the Litchfield Public Library.

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