John Ingersoll is a captain at the helm of a ship that has not yet left port.
But that ship is about to set sail. Ingersoll, 48, is the first librarian at the nearly completed Grantsville City Library, which is scheduled to have a “soft” opening at the end of this month and a grand opening April 13. Despite the uncharted water, Ingersoll is confident in the work he and his staff have been doing to prepare for the public. “It’s gone really well,” he said. “Something may come up, but so far it’s been great.”
Ingersoll, who started his new job last week, said there still are things to be done before the library opens. Some furniture still needs to be ordered, as well as computers, a copier and other supplies.
Also, 24,000 items the city purchased from the Tooele County Bookmobile library must be catalogued and shelved — a behemoth of a task for Ingersoll and staff members Nancy Carter and Linamarie Johnson, plus community members willing to volunteer.
The Grantsville Library Board is finalizing details on policies and procedures, as well as ensuring the library follows all criteria for certification by the state library system. Ingersoll said he and everyone involved know the direction in which they start will impact the library’s operations for years to come. He wants to make sure the journey is a good one.
“I realize the kind of policies and procedures we set up will go forth through the decade,” he said.
Ingersoll’s path to become Grantsville City’s first librarian has been somewhat unconventional. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he got a degree in art history before following in his parents’ footsteps and pursuing education. That decision brought him to Utah. Four and a half years ago, Ingersoll became the librarian for the Tooele County Bookmobile Library, and hauled a truck full of books throughout the area until that service was cut by the county last November. After that, he said, a position was kept open for him at the Utah State Library in Mapleton. He was grateful for the job, he said, although living in Erda meant a 90-mile commute each way.
“It was a lot better than the position most county employees found themselves in,” Ingersoll said.
In February, however, Grantsville City Mayor Brent Marshall approached Ingersoll about applying for the position of librarian at the new facility. Ingersoll said he was surprised but excited for the opportunity, especially since it would mean getting to work with people of Tooele County again.
Familiarity is often quick with regular patrons in the confines of a truck, he said, and the people he got to know weren’t shy about sharing what they liked and didn’t like. He said he feels those relationships, and the knowledge he gained while in the most remote corners of the county, are crucial to his new role.
“I know the people in the county. I know what their needs are and I think I can do right by them,” he said. “I know how to develop the collection for the community.”
Although he is now the librarian of a stationary, not mobile, library, Ingersoll said he wants to still make county residents a priority, especially now that there is no county library service. He said Mayor Marshall has been an advocate of making the library a community resource, and the two have been talking about ways to include residents of nearby communities.
A fee schedule has not yet been determined, said Ingersoll, but the aim is to make it inexpensive and adjustable in some circumstances, such as if a child goes to school in Grantsville but lives in Erda. The possibility of sharing the library’s resources with outlying towns like Ibapah is also being discussed.
Ingersoll said a goal is to engage schools and the community with the library by displaying students’ artwork and opening the library’s conference rooms to the public.
In addition to making the library a comfortable place, Ingersoll said he and Marshall have discussed ways to use the library to affect change, such as devising a way to gather donations for the local food bank.
Whatever they choose to do, he said, it’s always with the goal of helping residents and the community. “The sky’s the limit. We can do whatever we want,” he said. “It will reflect the community, and it will help the community.”