TIPP CITY — Lisa Santucci never saw herself running a public library.
She came from an academic background, having served as a dean in the Miami University Library system for more than 20 years.
But when she heard that the Tipp City Public Library was looking for a new director, she saw an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
“I’ve never thought that I would be a director of a public library. It wasn’t a goal, but it was an opportunity in my back yard,” she said.
It was time, she felt, to make a change in her work-life balance.
“I have a child. She’s 12 and I just found that when you get to a certain point, they need you just as much as when they’re really young,” she said. “I was missing things. I couldn’t get there in time.”
Santucci, a Tipp City resident since the ’90s, was driving about 127 miles to and from Oxford, Ohio, every work day. That commute — she was once stuck for 11 hours on the highway in the snow — was just taking too much time.
“I just wanted that balance in my life so that I was here for my daughter and giving back to the community that’s raising her, that she goes to school in,” Santucci said.
Now she works just three blocks away from home and walks to the library almost every day.
“It’s been a little weird for my routine,” she laughed. “I went to visit a friend the other day to have lunch down by the Air Force museum and I thought, ‘Wow, that was a long time in the car!’”
Santucci started her new job last month and threw herself in head first.
“I made the change from a Friday to a Monday. I gave myself no time off between jobs. That’s a really weird thing to do,” she said.
Though new to the world of public libraries, she understands that they play an important role in the community.
“When I first moved here to Tipp City in ‘95, I didn’t have a job and I volunteered here,” she said. “I’m not a good sitter and I just walked up, this was several library directors ago, and I said, ‘I know a lot of stuff and you don’t even have a website.’”
For several months before taking a job at Miami University, Santucci taught the public library’s first workshops on web design and internet usage.
“Public libraries serve a community and I understand about serving, being in a service profession,” she said. “Libraries build communities and can change people’s lives.”
As the director, she’s found that there are opportunities every day to make a small difference in the community.
“My goals are really to try to get the library connected with the community in their daily life,” she said.
Currently the library is gearing up for the annual summer reading program, which is a big deal, she said. It’s fun for the kids, who get to play games and win prizes, but it also keeps them reading.
This summer the library is also getting involved in Tipp Monroe Community Service’s summer lunch program, offering story time for kids and hopefully getting them excited about visiting the library, Santucci said.
The library is also getting ready for the grand opening of the north entrance to the building, which is set to open in mid-June.
“I’m really excited. I’ve got a lot of goals,” she said, including plans to upgrade the library’s website and technology.
While she feels she’s learned so much in just one month, Santucci said she still has so much more to learn about running a public library — like figuring out the Dewey decimal system, not something university libraries use.
“I’ve got a ways to go,” she laughed.
As she settles in — and learns which books go where — she’s enjoying getting more involved in the community and being a representative for the library to the city.
“People in the community know me. And I know a lot of people because of the 22 years I’ve lived here,” she said. “Now I want everyone to know me.”
Reach reporter Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 552-2205.