Meet the New Director of the Historic Oswego Public Library, Miranda McDermott

Meet the New Director of the Historic Oswego Public Library, Miranda McDermott

The Syracuse native brings more than 17 years’ worth of experience to the job. “We are gearing up to hopefully provide in-person library service soon,” she says

By Steve Yablonski

Could you please tell me your hometown?

I was raised in Syracuse.

Where did you go to college? What was your major?

I attended Onondaga Community College for one course, Psychology 101. I received a BA in Psychology from Le Moyne College in Syracuse. I studied abroad for one semester at the University of New South Wales near Sydney, Australia. I received an MA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY) in New York, NY. I received an MS in Information Science from SUNY Albany.

What experience do you have? What other libraries have you worked at?

I have been a librarian for more than 17 years. I have worked in special, public, academic and school libraries. I spent 12 years as a librarian for the New York Public Library, which has 92 locations in Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx. I have been a teen librarian, a children’s librarian, an adult services and a reference librarian at research libraries. I have worked in a healthcare communications library and a banking association library. My first professional job was as a solo librarian for a music school. I have also volunteered to catalog gay community center libraries in Dublin, Ireland and Albany, New York.

How did you find out about the position at Oswego? What attracted you to Oswego?

I discovered the open director position at the Oswego School District Public Library through the Central New York Library Resources Council (CLRC)’s website. My mother worked in Oswego County for more than 15 years as a special education teacher, and I have a friend who has taught at SUNY Oswego for more than a quarter century. Therefore, I received some information about Oswego. I love the fact that Oswego is a small town, and I can experience nature here. I also like being closer to family. I like the water, and the Oswego Public Library building is palatial. It is the oldest public library in its original building in the United States (since 1857).

Have you heard about Oswego’s infamous winters?

Indeed, I have. My friend and mother filled me in about the many feet of snow that is piled on Oswego during the winters. I love snow; we’ll see how my first winter in town goes.

How are things going right now at the library? How has the pandemic impacted the number of staff, or use by patrons?

I started in my position as director in March of 2021. The library is at a very exciting place right now. We are gearing up to hopefully provide in-person library service soon. We currently offer curbside service for pickup of materials such as books and DVDS.

People can also request photocopies or send documents to be printed to the following email address: oswlib@ncls.org. There is a 10-page limit, and currently there is no charge for the service.

We are providing telephone reference assistance. We also provide a weekly recorded Monday story time on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/oswegopl/.

We have a few vacant staff positions that we are looking to fill, since we have had a couple of retirements in 2020. Our staff is currently working onsite, and we are working on projects to improve the library for patrons. Of course, the pandemic caused the library to close for a few months in 2020. We reopened for curbside service in June of 2020. Immediately, we were busy with orders for materials to be picked up; this simply shows how much Oswegonians love their library! If there is something that we can do better, please call us at 315-342-5867 or email us at oswlib@ncls.org.

We also have wonderful electronic resources at our website:

www.oswegopubliclibrary.org. We are currently working hard to improve our digital presence to provide even greater remote library services for anyone who has digital access.

Do you have plans for the Oswego Library? Any that can be implemented in the near future?

We want to improve access to our print and digital materials. I want to work with the staff to learn about how we have been providing services to the Oswego community in the past. I would love to focus on outreach in the community and maintaining existing partnerships and building new collaborations to better serve the population, especially disenfranchised groups. I would love to improve teen services as well, and provide more inviting library services to that age group. Providing more virtual programming is a goal of mine, as is improving our digital presence. There are so many things that I would like to work together with the staff of the library, the board of trustees, and community organizations and patrons to accomplish. The Oswego Public Library is already impressive, but we want to make it even better!

Are libraries still relevant in today’s world?

Of course, libraries are centers of learning, both digitally and in print. Our web site has many resources that people can utilize from wherever they are. In person services are so important for those who lack digital access. We do have two hotspots and three chromebooks available for loan so that people can access the internet from home. Libraries also provide a sense of community and great books and a wonderful atmosphere.

What is the last book you’ve read?

The last book I read was ‘The Voting Booth’ by Brandy Colbert.

I loved this book because I believe strongly in civic engagement, voting and being involved in local government, such as writing letters and attending city council and county legislative meetings. The book also features diverse characters, which I love because I find other cultures and a divergence of viewpoints so important to critical thought and careful decision making processes.

Do you have any family members joining you here?

I have family and friends nearby.

What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any pets?

I love skating, both roller and ice, riding horses, enjoying parks, listening to music, watching congressional hearings, cooking, and spending time with family and friends. I currently do not have cats, but my roommate has one. I hope to adopt one or two cats in the near future.