Sparta Free Library under new leadership
Sparta Free Library’s new director, Michelle Tryggestad comes to Sparta with over 20 years of experience in libraries in some way, shape or form, including public libraries in Viroqua, Waterville, IA, De Soto, Westby and Boscobel.
Tryggestad grew up in northeast Iowa in the Waterville area before her parents moved their family to the Viroqua area when she was in seventh grade. She graduated from Viroqua High School and started working as a library aide.
“I got bit by the bug right out of high school,” she said.
After she got married and had her two children, she volunteered in her kids’ school libraries. With the encouragement of the teachers at her kids’ schools, Tryggestad decided to attend Viterbo University where she obtained a degree in education.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it if my kids hadn’t been in middle school and high school at the time and my husband was so supportive,” she said.
After she graduated, Tryggestad began her education career in Waukon, IA before her family moved back to her husband’s family farm in Viroqua, where they currently own a dairy farm.
Tryggestad then taught middle school English in the Tomah Area School District for four years.
“In the back of my mind it was always libraries that were my true love,” she said.
She obtained her master’s degree through the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire and became the library media specialist at three of the elementary schools in the Tomah Area School District.
“I just loved it. I loved being in the classroom with the students and helping them with research and finding out what’s good information and what’s not so good and how to be smart with your information,” she said. “I loved being in the libraries.”
While she loved working in Tomah, she began looking for work closer to home to eliminate the long drive to work every day. She found that the De Soto School District was looking for a library media specialist and someone to help them pursue a referendum for a new library media center.
“It was really exciting to be a part of that process and get the information out to the public,” Tryggestad said, adding it will help her navigate the library expansion project, which she is also excited to be a part of.
From there, she taught second grade in Westby for one year and then moved to the middle/high school media center. Through her position at the middle/high school level, she began working more with the district’s families and public.
“I think that’s where I really got interested in working with the public,” she said. “I wanted to utilize my master’s degree more and help the whole community rather than just the kids that I was seeing every day.”
She applied and was hired for Westby’s Bekkum Memorial Library directorship where she worked for two years. She had applied for a position in Boscobel the same time she applied at Sparta Free Library.
As she hadn’t heard back about the position in Sparta, she briefly took the position in Boscobel. Then she got the call from the Sparta library board to interview for the director position and was hired on the spot.
“Boscobel was very understanding of why I wanted to be back here in the Winding Rivers Library System, which is a truly great system in our state,” Tryggestad said. “We have good things going in our system as far as sharing among libraries and providing those services for our communities.”
Tryggestad officially started at Sparta Free Library on September 15 and she’s been busy getting to know the library staff and meeting with different department heads at Sparta City Hall as well as the library board.
“I’m really excited to be a part of the community and getting to know everyone,” Tryggestad said. “This is a busy community, we’ve got a lot of things going on, which is great.”