EASTHAM — Library Director Debra Dejonker-Berry announced in the spring that she would be retiring after seven years here and more than 15 years in the same job in Provincetown. Melanie McKenzie, who has been the access and technology services librarian since 2019, became the director on Sept. 13.
“I’m taking a bit of a break and going to spend time with family,” said Dejonker-Berry, 60, adding that she plans to “stay in touch and help when I’m needed.”
At 27, McKenzie is one of the youngest town department heads on the Outer Cape. She has been working at the library since 2017. Al Alfano, chair of the library trustees, said McKenzie has shown both “familiarity with our community, staff, and the strengths and needs of the Eastham library” and “adaptability and a capacity to learn.”
Originally from New Jersey, she and her husband moved to West Yarmouth — his family had spent summers there — which for two years meant commuting to Eastham for work and to Boston for library science classes at Simmons University.
The technology job at the library involved a lot of one-on-one work with people needing help, McKenzie said, not so much with information, but with logistics — connecting to the internet, downloading e-books, printing documents. It’s work that McKenzie said she tried to do “with a clear head and a smile.”
The director is not only in charge of I.T., McKenzie said, but also oversees four full-time and five part-time staff and is responsible for programing, developing library policy with the trustees, and making decisions on how the library manages its collection.
The promotion comes with an increase in salary from $44,475 to $78,187. According to the job posting, the library director makes between $78,183 and $98,589. Dejonker-Berry made $78,832 in 2020, according to the town report.
McKenzie applied for the director job in July and was one of three highly qualified finalists, Alfano said. The town administrator hires the library director, according to the town charter.
Part of the attraction of the job was the library’s reputation. “You can really feel it when you’re in town,” McKenzie said. “The library is beloved here.”
After stepping into the role of director, McKenzie found herself caring for the library in ways she hadn’t expected. On the first day, she got an email from a staff member saying that a woodpecker was boring holes in the building’s cedar exterior. She called the DPW, which installed a balloon deterrent. “They always say a good librarian knows where to go to ask questions,” McKenzie said.
In addition to her role as library director, McKenzie is also a local business owner. Along with three other women, she runs Cape Cod Pole Fitness in West Harwich. The joy of helping people at the library overcome their fears of technology, she said, is not unlike the thrill of helping someone do a spin on the pole. Both jobs, she said, “are tied to education and personal empowerment.”