Meridian Library District
Gretchen Caserotti was drawn to her profession of library science because of her love of story.
“Always the kid with my nose in a book, I combined my love of theater with the written word, and through libraries, I continue to share stories with the community,” she said.
The library director for the Meridian Library District since 2013, the story of Caserotti’s professional life is itself fascinating reading. Growing up in a small Minnesota town, she was immersed in the local arts community and her father’s music store. She later moved to New York City to study theater.
Then came 10 years of exploring, living in cities on the West Coast before returning to New York to finish a bachelor’s degree in 2004, then a master’s degree in library and information science from the Pratt Institute in 2008. In 2006, she became the children’s librarian (and favorite storyteller) at the New York Public Library. Two years later, she was head of children and teen services at Darien Library in Connecticut, and by 2011, its assistant director. While at Darien, she reorganized the children’s picture book collection by topic instead of by author, a strategy that resulted in a 500% increase in circulation.
Fast forward to 2013, when Caserotti and her husband, Henry, moved to the Treasure Valley. In just six years as a first-time library director, she transformed the Meridian Library into a thriving modern library and active community center. Two additional spaces, the unBound technology library and the Tiny Library for early literacy, have been nationally recognized for innovation.
Under Caserotti’s leadership, the Meridian Library District received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service by the Institute of Museum and Library Services in June 2019, a prestigious award that recognizes museums and libraries that make a significant contribution to their communities. Only one other Idaho library has received the award in the past decade.
The library also received a best practice honor from the Library of Congress for its work in early literacy, outreach and innovative library practices. As well, Caserotti was recognized with a fellowship award by the American Library Association and an innovation award by Penguin Random House Foundation. Locally, she was honored in 2018 as Woman of the Year by the Meridian Chamber of Commerce. The Meridian Library District was named Public Library of the Year in 2014 by the Idaho Library Association.
Caserotti’s goals involve renovating and building new libraries that ignite curiosity, cultivate connections and enrich lives. Through collective impact, the Meridian Library District can play a part in increasing literacy for people of all ages and walks of life, she believes.
“Literacy is one of the most important factors in an individual’s opportunities for success,” she said. “Literacy is power and transforms lives.”
Definitely “not your mother’s library,” the Meridian Library District is the community’s library, as demonstrated by the recent passage of a tax levy for library expansion.
“Her impact isn’t con ned to the library walls,” said Jessica Flynn, CEO of Red Sky, in nominating Caserotti for a Women of the Year Award. “In fact, she has broken down the literal and figurative walls of a library to the expand the reach and role of this vital community resource.”