A new chapter for the Washougal library

Christine Hughey will succeed Sean McGill on Aug. 25

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Washougal Community Librarian Sean McGill (left) talks with Library Assistant Rachel Kuerzinger (right). For 13 years, McGill has planned events and performances by fiddlers, magicians and a "Creature Feature" snake wrangler, as well as a Lewis and Clark-era cooking demonstration and several doll and teddy bear tea parties. He has been reassigned to serve as the community librarian in Ridgefield, starting Sept. 1. Christine Hughey, community librarian in Stevenson and North Bonneville for six years, will relocate to Washougal.

A woman whose husband’s family tree includes the first librarian in Washougal will soon fill that role herself.

Christine Hughey, the community librarian in Stevenson and North Bonneville for six years, will relocate to Washougal, as Sean McGill becomes Ridgefield’s community librarian on Sept. 1.

McGill, who has served as the community librarian in Washougal for 13 years, will succeed Ann O’Reilly, who is retiring.

Hazel Burris, a member of the Washougal Women’s Club, was the Washougal librarian from 1939 to 1964. Her grandson Mark is married to Christine.

Hughey has worked for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District for 23 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Marylhurst University and a master’s degree in library science from Syracuse University.

Hughey plans to be at the Washougal Library, starting Friday, to meet members of the community.

She will officially assume her new role Thursday, Aug. 25.

“I know folks are really going to miss Sean,” Hughey said. “I’m going to do my best to live up to his great example.”

Washougal Library Assistant Rachel Kuerzinger said McGill has been the best supervisor she has ever worked for.

“He leads by example,” she said. “He never hesitates to jump in and tackle whatever needs to be done. He makes you feel like you are an equal and important member of the team.

“Sean is a positive person with a lot of energy,” Kuerzinger added. “He is always looking for ways to improve the library and create a welcoming environment that provides valuable resources to all members and ages of the community. Sean creates a relaxed, yet professional, atmosphere that focuses on providing excellent customer service to everyone.”

Prior to working in Washougal, McGill was a reference librarian at the Main Vancouver Library. He has also worked as a substitute reference librarian at the Vancouver Library and at Portland Community College.

McGill said it is going to take some time to build relationships at his new workplace, but he is looking forward to it.

“I’m going to be lucky,” he said. “Ridgefield has an excellent staff who are excited that I am going to be the branch manager. It has great library patrons, and they are doing excellent programming already. I hope to add to this great mix.

“It’s terribly difficult to leave here,” McGill added.

He is a past recipient of the Altrusa International of Clark County Library Service Award.”I won, partly because of my outreach to skateboarding teens who I invited into the library,” McGill said. “I won’t forget the day they came in excited and kinda’ sweaty and asked if they could use the TV and VCR set up inside the library to view a tape they had made of themselves doing tricks and stunts on their boards.”

McGill’s favorite memories include his involvement in the “Building Blocks” program at the East County Family Resource Center. It includes reading, dancing, music, finger plays and a craft.

“One day I read a book and then a little girl picked that same book up and read it to her grandmother,” McGill said. “Well, she didn’t really read it, but she had the gist of the story and was copying what I had done.”

He is proud of the way the Washougal Library partnered in many ways with Washougal High School Librarian Kim Dillon. That included holding a teen book discussion at the school and cooperating on additional programs.

McGill said a Friday gaming group was started when Dillon invited him to meet game designer and author Geno Salvatore.

“I met students who were looking for a place to play and ended up with a game master too,” McGill said “This program attracted many of the same teens weekly for more than two years. Those teens helped with other library programs and with Friends activities.”

He has also enjoyed working with the poetry group in Washougal.

“I’ve met phenomenal people through that program, including Ernesto Claros who wrote beautifully in both English and Spanish; Toni Partington who is heavily involved in the poetry scene in Vancouver these days; and Charles Walsh from Portland who came in and told me he had written over 800 sonnets. When he read one, I asked him, ‘Why aren’t you published?’ and now he’s pursuing that.”

McGill is proud of the work that has been done with the Head Start classes in Camas and Washougal. His memorable moments include seeing students at Hathaway and Gause elementary schools being excited about “Timber A. Wolf,” a wolf puppet McGill brought with him.

McGill said he is proud of the good work that he and his staff have done helping teachers and librarians at area schools.

Informational assistance has also been provided to other local residents.

“I’ve always been amazed at the surprising variety of things that people seek information about — whether it is wanting to know about sunken ships off the old Pendleton Woolen Mills dock, the origins of nursery rhymes, ancient Chinese siege weapons or just needing the perfect book — and how not only I’ve been able to provide that, but my staff does as well,” he said.

“Really, none of this is possible without an excellent staff,” McGill added. “I may set the tone for the branch and instill and model behavior, but staff carries it out.”