Leadership Spotlight - Mindy Lipsky

leadership Sep 10, 2023

Mindy Lipsky is the Executive Director of the Pottstown Public Library. In this role, she wears many hats, Human Resources, Fundraising and Development, Operations, just to name a few and is responsible for all day to day and strategic level decision making.

Mindy’s passion for the library and for the community drives her every day to have an impact in her role.

She says, “I want to make sure the community knows we’re here as a resource, and that we have multiple services. The library isn’t just about books anymore.”


Over the last year and a half, Mindy has spent time building relationships and creating a broader awareness of the massive resource that the library can be to the community – both to the people and to the organizations in our community.


She says, “We’re one of the last organizations that you can walk into the building and not be expected to spend any money while you’re here.”


We want people to understand all of the services we have beyond books. We're a safe place for people that are experiencing homelessness to come during the day. We have an Early Literacy Center and hold story time for kids. We help with elderly, we help with digital literacy. We're working on building in some financial literacy. And we want to make sure that we have all kinds of resources for everyone.”


I asked Mindy as she reflects on her leadership journey, what’s a lesson she’s learned along the way?

She shared, “One of the things I've learned as a leader is to not forget who I am. It could be all too easy to get caught up in business and caught up in rules and regulations, but when it comes down to it, we're humans dealing with humans. That means that some humans are going to make mistakes, and that means sometimes people will lose touch with compassion. As a leader, it's my job to make sure that our staff and our board and our friends of the library are all working from the same place - working together as a team with compassion and caring at the source of it.”


I followed up by asking Mindy what she’s most proud of when she reflects on her Leadership journey.

“My leadership journey has really been multiple decades long and I've been a leader in many different roles. And I feel like all of my past roles have culminated into this one. I worked for a finance company, I worked in direct sales, I was the co-owner of a co working space, I was a business coach. I did a lot of different things that have prepared me for this position.”

Mindy talked about transitioning into her role at the library and said, “Sometimes when a new leader comes into an organization there can be some hesitation and resistance to change, even if you’re bringing positive change.  And, you just have to be compassionate and understand people are human. I really do have a passion and compassion for my staff, and I feel protective of them. If there are patrons that are not treating them with respect, I don't tolerate that. I want everybody to want to come to work and feel safe and feel like they're contributing to whatever passion that they have. So it's, been a hard transition year. But I feel like we made it through that first year. And I'm really, really proud of that.”

Mindy shared that whether it’s within her team, her board, or in working with other organizations in the community, having open lines of communication, being transparent, and being willing to have hard conversations are some of the things she’s seen that have helped create forward movement and positive change.    

Mindy’s passion for the Library is evident, so I asked, what drives her passion and where it comes from?

“Well, I did not ever think I would work in a library. I had my businesses. And then in 2018, my mom passed away and I had been her caregiver for 10 years. So it was a total identity shift. I was having a really hard time, and it was hard to be entrepreneurial and self motivated when I was going through that experience. And then my pastor recommended getting a part time job where I could ease back into things. She said how about a library, it's quiet there. So I started in 2018 at 10 hours a week as a youth services library assistant. I learned the first day was not going to be quiet” she chuckled.

“But I did start to develop. I've always been one that likes to help people and I didn't realize how much a library could do for the community. And the more I learned, the more passionate I got. And then I found out that the Executive Director position is where you can make the most impact in the community, where you can help guide the programming and help guide what we do in and around the community. So I had a plan that I would start my master's degree, and then whenever the position opened, I would, go for it. Well, it happened to open up three and a half years after I started in the library, and I went for it.”

Mindy finished her Master’s Degree in May and combines that with her bachelor’s degree in psychology, as well as her entrepreneurial experience to bring a depth of expertise, and creative thinking to her role.  

She shared, “The hardest thing is we're not funded well. So there's a lot that I would love to do and we just don't have the money to do it. So that can be discouraging and frustrating. Sometimes I feel like people don't realize just how magnificent the library can be in their lives and, and especially in underserved populations. We provide access to internet here. We have job search training, we have different organizations that come in and they can get the resources that they need. We have fun things like adult crafting, and we have a knitting circle. And we have children's programs. There's so much going on here and I don't feel that the community knows that. So that's really my passion - I would love for the community to be able to utilize all the resources and all the wonderful things that we have here when they need them.”

You can learn more about the Library’s vast resources and events here, as well as its history including what was once in the 100 year old building that is now the Library! Check it out!

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