April Dillinger, left, and Matt Willis are deputy directors.
This year, Willard Library begins a new chapter in its history. On Jan. 1, I had the privilege of becoming the 15th director since the library opened in 1840. I look forward to building on the strong foundation of both current and past leadership of the library, the trustees, and the dedicated staff.

It's truly an honor to lead the library that I grew up visiting. I was raised in Battle Creek, and have many fond memories of the Children's Room, where I spent time reading and picking out books. I graduated from Battle Creek Central High School, which is right down the street from Willard. I even met my husband here when we were both in high school!

I have worked at Willard since 1995 in several positions, most recently serving as assistant director for the past five years. It is important to me to build relationships and to create a rich experience for our guests.

I am very excited about continuing to serve our community with my exceptional colleagues. Local residents often call Willard the jewel of Battle Creek. We are grateful for this honor and the outstanding support the library has received from the community throughout the years.

I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to Willard's new deputy directors.

April Dillinger is now deputy director of administration and oversees budget and financial analysis, collection development and value, statistical reports and analysis. April obtained her MLIS from Wayne State University in 2009 and joined the Willard team shortly after.

Matt Willis is now deputy director of operations and oversees policy development and procedures, personnel systems and growth, adult programming and impact, and the strategic planning process. Matt obtained his MLIS from Wayne State University in 2002 and joined the Willard team that same year.

We have outstanding staff who are dedicated to serving our community. We work together to bring you the best services and programs available.

As a team, we are committed to Willard's mission, which is "We create a community of readers and a world of possibilities," and vision, which is "A proud, inspired Battle Creek."

Willard's strategic plan states our shared values are citizenship, curiosity, empathy, community, and excellence. We will strive to continue the work we have started.

If you would like to chat please stop by the downtown library, I'd love to meet you. If you're on Facebook, follow me at Cathy Lucas.

One of Cathy's favorite books is "Eleni" by Nicholas Gage because it closely mirrors her grandparents' experiences when they immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s.