Lincoln County Library System welcomes Michael Burris as their new executive director. He joined the library system on April 11, and will oversee its 35 employees, central library in Kemmerer, and five branches.
Burris graduated from Clarion University of Pennsylvania in 2007 with a Master of Library Science degree, specializing in rural library systems. Before coming to Lincoln County, he served as director of Harlan Community Library in Harlan, Iowa, beginning in 2008. There he was also secretary of the Harlan Community Library Foundation.
His eclectic past history includes running a capsulating machine at an herbal processing plant, serving as the personal assistant to a stock trader, hiring crews for deep-water tanker ships, filling and tracking orders at a computer network equipment distributor, and administering GED tests at a community college.
“Since actually picking a career I’ve found it quite rewarding to work closely with the public on literacy, which I am passionate about,” he said. “Literacy is the foundation of our society.
“Without literacy, you can only do what you’ve been shown, and what you’re told to do. With the ability to read, a person has the tools to take control of their own life, whether economically, creatively, or just being able to fish successfully. Literacy is key to controlling your own circumstances.”
The Burris’ move from Iowa was “about a thousand miles west and a mile straight up,” but the Burris family are all happy with their new home in Kemmerer. “Everyone has been quite welcoming, which can be a little disconcerting to an Iowa native. In The Music Man, it’s quite true when they sing ‘glad to have you with us / even if we may not ever mention it again,’ The friendly welcomes have been overwhelming, and the help to get us settled has been invaluable.”
Burris said it was time for him to move on from Iowa and grapple with new challenges after a major project that led to about a 10 percent increase in circulation. His move included his wife of 21 years, three of their four children (“the fourth felt that dropping out of Iowa State University to join the family would destroy his GPA”), and three cats.