WEST LIBERTY, Iowa—After the previous West Liberty Public Library Director Deb Lowman became the Assistant Dean of Libraries and Learning Resources at Scott Community College late in 2019, the library began a new chapter by hiring Allie Paarsmith as their new director. Paarsmith, who took up her position in January, looks forward to leading the library with her experience and enthusiasm.
In high school, Paarsmith got her first job, working as a page at the Marshalltown Public Library. One of her best friend’s mothers worked as the library’s director at the time and had encouraged her to apply. At the time, Paarsmith gave little thought to her work. “It was just a job,” she recalled, “but I enjoyed it.”
After graduating, Paarsmith went on to get her bachelor’s degree in theatre. Once Paarsmith decided she did not want an acting career, she changed course completely, trying her hand at becoming a sustainable farmer. Dissatisfied with her work, Paarsmith knew she had to find something else and thought long and hard about where to take her career. “I looked back at all the jobs I had had, and (working at the library) was the one that made me happy, so I went to graduate school for it.”
Library science proved a good fit for Paarsmith. After finishing graduate school, she worked as the teen librarian for the Iowa City Public Library and then the reference librarian for the Coralville Public Library. Paarsmith also worked for a time as the adult services librarian at the Washington Public Library.”
As Paarsmith developed her skills over time, she began getting bolder and bolder ideas about how to run a library. Eventually, she felt, “I was ready to spread my wings as a manager.”
When Paarsmith saw the West Liberty Public Library needed a director, she took the risk and applied. Paarsmith suited the library’s needs well, and they happily welcomed her on as their newest director.
As Paarsmith begins her time at the West Liberty Public Library, she looks forward to maximizing the library’s benefits for the community. “I want to make sure we’re investing in resources people really need,” she emphasized. Currently, Paarsmith has begun a project to reclassify books and to provide better signage, allowing library patrons to find books listed in the online catalog more effectively.
Though Paarsmith has only just come to West Liberty, she deeply values all the support she has gotten so far. “My staff is amazing,” she stated. “I’ve only seen support for me, and everyone wants to see me succeed.”
Paarsmith has also enjoyed returning to her roots, not only through library work but by living in a small yet diverse city, similar to where she grew up in Marshalltown. “I couldn’t do what I do without the support of the community and staff,” she said. As Paarsmith begins her work of helping the West Liberty community through all the programs the library does, she will surely become even more connected to the city and find even more support from its residents.