LAKE FOREST — Catherine Lemmer has done many things in her professional life along with running a library, and she believes her amalgam of experience will help in her new post as director of the Lake Forest Library.
Lemmer, who takes over for retiring Kay Grabbe May 16, is a law school librarian who doubles as a professor at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University in Indianapolis.
Lemmer has also practiced law with a major Chicago firm, helped manage a government agency in Indiana, and assisted management of the Galesburg, Ill., library. The combination of experiences makes her a better decision maker, she said.
“Doing all these things in different roles is complementary to taking a problem and seeing it through to find a solution,” Lemmer said. “I’ve never been a trend follower. I see things differently and come from a varied background.”
Lemmer said the ability to bring a variety of skills is critical in a world changing as quickly as libraries and learning. She said libraries are still a place where people come for information but they do it differently.
“They are a place of creativity and collaboration,” Lemmer said. “The whole view of a library is different but we are still a cultural educational organization meeting evolving needs. We have to adapt our delivery systems.”
Part of the evolution of “delivery systems” includes electronic books, people learning through enhanced audiovisual devices and everything else that comes with rapidly changing technology.
Before Lemmer does anything different at the Lake Forest Library she plans to do a lot of listening. She said she is inheriting an outstanding team from Grabbe and wants to get to know people in the community beyond the library as well.
“When you’re new to an organization you have to listen,” Lemmer said. “I need to take a library tour (with the staff) and learn as much as I can. I’ve always had an open door. If people walk by I want them to rap on my door, say hi. That means people from the community.”
Lemmer said she also intends to go out into Lake Forest and get to know people as well as invite them to the library. She said high on her list are the Friends of the Library and the board as well as people connected with the schools and city.
Not only did she help run the IU law school library in Indianapolis, Lemmer taught students legal research, advanced legal research and research in international law. She also authored more than 60 books, journal articles, reports, book reviews and other publications.
Before landing at the law school, Lemmer was a project manager for Evergreen Indiana, a 100-member consortium of libraries where she implemented an open source inter-library system, according to her resume.
Lemmer’s credentials include graduating magna cum laude with an undergraduate degree from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., and cum laude from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She practiced law with the Chicago firm of Vedder Price and picked up a master’s degree from the University of Illinois.
Though she recognizes the move to electronic reading, Lemmer said she does not see print materials ever changing in a library though she believes things will continue to be more and more open and available.
“I remember when there were closed stacks and somebody got the book for you,” Lemmer said. “We will continue to do the same things we will just adapt to the ways we’re harnessing technology.”