Pope returns to run public library


Timing is everything.

Lisa Wilke Pope was in Elkader in early December to visit her parents, Eldean and Ivanelle Wilke, when a job posting caught her eye.

“I just happened to be reading the Clayton County Register and saw the ad for the public library director position,” she said. “After I went home, I sent in my application right away.”

Pope soon found herself on a short list of applicants to be interviewed for the job. She was chosen for the position and started work on January 2, replacing former director Jill Sanders, who took a job in Altoona.

“I think the Elkader Public Library is a treasure for its patrons,” Pope said, responding to an inquiry on why she was drawn to the job. “It has a friendly, helpful staff, and patrons can check out thousands of materials, free of charge.”

Pope is a 1983 Central High graduate. She has an undergraduate degree in English and a master’s in library science, both from the University of Northern Iowa. She’s held numerous library positions, including, most recently, teacher-librarian at Clear Lake High School.

There was never any doubt in Pope’s mind that she’d someday work in a library. She’s always loved books and reading, and even played “librarian” as a little girl.

Though it’s been 30 years since Pope has lived in Elkader, she’s already been greeted by people she knew when she grew up here.

“I’m happy to be back in my hometown,” she said. “As I told my husband (Dave), I’d forgotten just how nice everyone is in Elkader.”

Pope is looking forward to introducing her grown children to her old and new friends, as well. Dave and Lisa have a daughter, Melody, 27, and a son, David, 21.

In addition to vast experience, Pope brings new ideas to the position. She’s currently working on settling in and learning the ropes—every library operates a bit differently. As soon as she’s completely up-to-speed, she’ll implement a few new programs, which she’ll announce in her weekly column (see page 3).

“I’m also open to suggestions, as well,” she added.

Pope sees a bright future for the Elkader Public Library despite the exploding popularity of electronic readers and technologies that are attempting to move people away from the traditional printed format of books, newspapers and magazines.

“Libraries are the great equalizer,” Pope said. “All persons have equal access to everything in a library. If there were no libraries, only those people who could afford  to purchase books and computers would have them.”

As a librarian, Pope is often asked to recommend authors or titles of books. Her reading tastes are diverse, and though she generally prefers fiction over non-fiction, she’s been known to pick up tomes by Alice Hoffman, Jodi Picoult, Laurie Halse Anderson, John Green, and others.

Said Pope, “When anyone asks me what my favorite book is, I usually tell them ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ by Madeleine L’Engle, the 1964 Newberry Award winner, which I remember from my childhood. It’s also one of the only books I’ve read several times.”

Pope’s current favorite is a young adult novel by Veronica Roth titled “Divergent.”

“It’s set in a dystopian world, similar to ‘The Hunger Games,’ but it has a unique plot,” Pope added.

By Pam Reinig, Register Editor

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