Patty Wagner is used to answering a lot of questions from curious patrons of the Winfield Public Library.

One of the most recent and frequent inquiries has been, “When will the Winfield Public Library reopen?”

Wagner, the new library director, assured the public that the reopening will happen soon if everything goes as planned. She and other staff are busy working on an appropriate time frame to reopen.

The library’s Board of Trustees promoted Wagner to the position of library director. Her new duties officially begin Thursday, replacing Joan Cales, who is retiring after serving that post since 2005.

Wagner has worked at the library since 2019 as the adult services librarian. Some of her duties in that role included classes, lectures, the Reading Challenge program, homebound services and adult crafts.

Wagner’s new responsibilities as WPL director will be, in part, managing library services, overseeing the budget and hiring staff, ensuring compliance with laws, grant writing, reporting to the library board and working to improve library services through her involvement with the community.

She’s looking forward to it.

“My entire career has been about serving people,” she said. “And I am lucky to have served after such a strong leader like Joan Cales.”

Wagner moved to Winfield two years ago with her husband, Pat, a Southwestern College employee.

“Driving through Flint Hills and seeing the beauty of the fields on the way into town excited us,” she said in a recent press release.

One of the things the couple fell in love with when visiting Winfield was the public library.

Passionate about books, Wagner is interested in a variety of genres and is attracted to a good mystery. She just finished Malcolm Gladwell’s “Talking to Strangers,” and found it quite intriguing.

With more than 25 years previous museum experience, Wagner’s focus had been on leadership, community outreach, and partnerships and programming. Some of her other specialties related to museum work included major exhibit curation, grant writing and the creation of partnerships with area businesses and organizations.

Wagner also had been responsible for the implementation of Helen Bader SPARK! programs for people with early-to-mid-stage Alzheimer’s.

Another question Wagner gets from people stems from the popularity of e-books versus the desire for others to know that physical books will still be available for many years to come.

She said most people don’t realize that libraries can’t simply purchase e-books from Amazon or other websites. 

“Those books are marked for private use,” she said. “An e-book that may cost an individual $15 on Amazon may cost a library $50-$70. And after either a certain number of uses or amount of time, we no longer have rights to the e-book.”

In addition, Wagner pointed out that Amazon is actually the publisher for certain e-books, and those e-books aren’t available to the Winfield Public Library.

Wagner stressed that she and her staff are always concerned with providing equal access to books and items to patrons.

“And not all of our patrons can access e-books,” she said. “Either they don’t have the needed technology, the knowledge needed to use the technology, or they want to read e-books.”

Some readers prefer the actual feel of a book in their hands and often love to share that book with friends.

“We try very hard to offer a variety of e-books to those who love them, but physical books are right now the easiest and least expensive option of the two for libraries,” she said.

Wagner can be reached at (620)-221-4470 or by email at pwagner@wpl.org. The library website is wpl.org.

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