After more than a decade of bringing the joy of reading to St. Helens, Margaret Jeffries will pass along the opportunity to someone new.

Jeffries announced her retirement as the St. Helens Library Director at the end of October and is set to retire at the end of January.

“This year, my dad turned 96, and with a pandemic, I hadn't been able to see him,” Jeffries said, of her reason for leaving. “He lives across the country. And I think the pandemic gave me an opportunity to reflect about the desire to spend more time with him and other family members, of course, but I felt that this was the right time for me to step away from work.”

Jeffries was hired by the city in July 2009 as a part-time St. Helens Public Library Technician, and subsequently promoted to library director in July 2010 following the resignation of the previous director.

Retiring

St. Helens Mayor Rick Scholl presents St. Helens Library Director Margaret Jeffries with a Length of Service Award Aug. 7, 2019 following recognition by the the city council.

The St. Helens Public Library has seen recent innovations under Jeffries’ leadership, one example being the Sept. 30 addition of a “Makerspace” for students to learn about STEM at St. Helens Public Library.

United Way of Columbia County Claire Catt said Jeffries has done a lot of work as a member of the advisory committee for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, an initiative to bring books to the personal libraries of kids all over Columbia County.

Dolly Parton Imagination Library was started in 2018 by United Way of Columbia County as a backbone agency providing library funding and staffing, with a bulk of the work guided by the committee, Catt said

“(Jeffries) has been a wonderful advocate for the program,” Catt said. “She has connected Dolly Parton Imagination Library not only with the work of this public library, but all of the libraries within Columbia County, really being an advocate for the libraries to be hubs where children are signed up.”

In 2019, Jeffries was recognized by the city officials for her work in tying together the community. That recognition was posted on the city’s Facebook.

“Congratulations to St. Helens Public Library Director Margaret Jeffries on reaching 10 years of service with the City of St. Helens! Margaret was recognized at today's City Council meeting,” the Facebook post reads. “Margaret is credited with hiring exceptional staff who together have created amazing programs at the Library that engage children and adults of all ages.”

“We wish her very well after serving the City of St. Helens for over ten years and providing excellent guidance and leadership at the Library,” King said, acknowledging Jeffries’ contributions.

The library director performs many functions for the city, serving on various interagency committees in addition to the mayor, city council, city administrator, and staff about library issues, and manages seven employees, according to St. Helens Communications Officer Crystal King.

“The position performs complex supervisory, administrative, and professional work in planning, developing, organizing, scheduling, directing, supervising, and implementing a year-round, citywide library program,” King said.

The monthly salary for a Library Director offered by the city ranges from $7,494 to $9,176, along with the following benefits:

  • Diverse health, vision and dental insurance packages for employee and family with only a 2% out-of-pocket premium
  • Fully paid participation in the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System
  • 13 paid holidays
  • Two to six weeks of paid vacation
  • Accrued sick leave (12 days per year)
  • Longevity pay: $50-200 per month depending on length of service
  • Management leave: 96 hours per fiscal year
  • Possible housing incentive
  • $50 monthly towards a health club membership
  • Life insurance

Applicants are encouraged to apply online at sthelensoregon.gov. The position remains open until filled, and applications will be reviewed starting Dec. 27.

Recruiting for the position is open internally and to the public, and the City of St. Helens is relying on different mediums to get the word out, including local newspapers, statewide and national government and library professional associations, and job-seeker websites.

King said Jeffries is in the middle of conducting interviews of applicants for the director’s position. The Chronicle will follow up with a one-on-one interview with Jeffries in a future article.

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