Movers & Shakers – Kathryn Wisinger

Meet Kathryn Wisinger.

A lifelong Cookevillian, Kathryn took over as director of the Putnam County Library in early 2022 after teaching language acquisition as an English Second Language (ESL) educator for more than a decade.

“I transitioned from teaching where I had a platform for influence, albeit a more individual-based one. When I took this position, I realized I could continue to impact the world around me, but do so on a larger, more macro scale.” Kathryn continued, “Being able to reach so many people across the county positively, is, without question, my favorite part of this position.”

As an advocate for literacy and former Library Board member, Kathryn fully understands the impact a thriving library can have.

Kathryn stated, “The library is the hub of any healthy community. It is a place of connection. We serve the citizens of the area in a variety of ways, well beyond books.” She continued, “Whether it’s helping patrons complete job applications, files taxes, or gain knowledge through the internet, the library provides a safe haven, a resource, and a point of connection for Cookeville and beyond.”

Though thriving in many ways, Cookeville, just like every city, is filled with the hurting and the underrepresented. Kathryn views the Putnam County Library as a place of education, healing, and networking for those looking to reinvent themselves or rechart the course of their lives.

“I noticed right away that the people who most needed the library weren’t visiting any of our four county locations. This prompted me to partner with outside resources like the school system and the Putnam County Justice Center to connect those most in need to what we provide,” Kathryn said.

“For March’s ‘Reading Awareness Month’, we were able to give every student in Putnam County a digital library card; expanding their access to our resources overnight. In early 2022 we partnered with the Justice Center and Lt. Matt Stinnet to open a library onsite and it’s grown, through donations, so much that the book cart has been expanded.” She elaborated, “This impacts the jail system and the community in a variety of ways. Not only do the inmates grow during incarceration, the positivity that reading injects into their lives makes the environment safer for the guards on duty. Our hope is these inmates will experience personal change as a result of the access to literature and carry this into the world once they are finished with their stay.”

Even a brief conversation with Kathryn Wisinger reveals her heart; one that loves this city and wants to use her position at the library to enhance it.

She is zealous about the written word, passionate for the marginalized, and devoted to making Putnam County and Cookeville’s WestSide a place of knowledge, kindness, and education for all.

“If we didn’t have the library, the community would notice. We provide totally free resources to the underserved in our community on a daily basis. These people need our help more than anyone, and in real, practical ways, the library is a tool, a place of refuge, and a catalyst for personal progress for those who walk through our doors.” She concluded by saying, “We are a stronger area because of the Putnam County Library and I’m so proud to be part of the journey.”

– by Andrew Buckner, photo by Cris Stroud


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