Erin Wincek comes with 13 years of experience in libraries.
Few pairings in life are as perfect as coffee and a book. It makes some sort of sense, then, that a barista might one day become a librarian. And if you ask Erin Wincek, the new director of the Erie County Public Library system, why libraries are important, she might start talking about coffee shops.
“I’ve worked in a lot of coffee shops and cafes,” said the 37-year-old Wincek, who still roasts coffee at home. “I’ve seen what they can do for communities. They bring people together.”
The same can be true of libraries when they are operating at their full potential, Wincek said. She has worked in a lot of them, too, and comes to her new role with more than 13 years of experience. Her goal is for Erie County’s libraries to be as essential as coffee, to reach as many people as possible.
The work is already underway.
Wincek — who previously served as the Blasco Library coordinator, as well as acting director when the former director had taken a leave of absence — was heavily involved in mapping out the future of the county’s libraries.
New spaces coming to Blasco that Wincek hopes will change the way people in Erie think about the library are under construction. She has embraced the chaos of the moment. It was one of the reasons she took the job.
“I love projects like this,” she said. “I like a challenge. I like a project with multiple arms happening at once.”
Patrons using the library on a recent afternoon did not seem to mind the sounds of machinery either.
Gone are the days of being shushed by the librarian, after all. Although books and media remain an integral part of libraries — there are 423,079 items in Erie County’s collection — they are also a resource for the underprivileged looking to improve their lives, and a meeting place for entrepreneurs planning a business or using technology to design products.
That type of technology,…