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Posted on: December 13, 2023

Two Librarians Help Shape Snoqualmie Valley Libraries and Literacy

Mayor Ross and Irene Wickstrom 2023

Michele Drovdahl and Irene Wickstrom, who both recently retired from the King County Library System (KCLS), both served important roles connecting people with books and information in the Snoqualmie Valley. 

Michele Drovdahl, who served as a Regional Manager for KCLS, had wanted to be a librarian most of her life. “I decided to be a librarian when I was nine,” Drovdahl said of her time growing up in Sequim. 

After moving to a variety of cities through her husband’s military career, the couple returned to the Snoqualmie Valley in 1993, where Drovdahl started work with KCLS. 

“I loved advising people about which books to read, along with the focus on programs.” As a teen librarian, she served the communities of North Bend and Snoqualmie. Later, she became a regional manager for KCLS, dropping into the Snoqualmie Library every Thursday as part of her library rotation.

Throughout her career, Drovdahl saw the role of the library expand from books, to computers, to community events. This, too, has appealed to her. “I like being with people and helping them find what they need or to help them pursue their goals.”

While retired from her KCLS role, Drovdahl is reviewing numerous mysteries and horror titles for the American Library Association, which will help other librarians select and recommend books. 

At home, Drovdahl’s personal library consists of 7,000 books. “They’re all friends,” she said.  

Irene Wickstrom, who served KCLS as Librarian Services Manager, came to the Snoqualmie Valley in 2007 to help open the Snoqualmie Library. “The month before the grand opening, we were moving books from the old location to the new,” she said, adding it was an exciting time for KCLS and for the community. In 2008, she worked with Drovdahl to open the Fall City library in its new location. 

Wickstrom, who studied elementary education and reinvented herself with library science, served in a library system in San Bernardino before moving to Washington state to work at KCLS. 

One of Wickstrom’s favorite things about working in the library was the community events, such as a knitting group formed in 2010. The group displayed their talents in addition to sharing their knowledge about books. They also taught kids to knit. 

Another initiative was a partnership with the Snoqualmie Tribe where students created a mural featuring an origin story of the Snoqualmie People. Older kids in the Tribe helped narrate the story. 

In addition, Wickstrom participated in school visits to promote the library and literacy, summer reading programs, teen activities, and the Friends of the Library book sales. Her love of reading inspired Wickstrom to participate in five library book groups. 

Like Drovdahl, Wickstrom has seen the role of libraries broaden, particularly in terms of online use and research. The pandemic, she added, has influenced remote access to books and other library resources. 

In another similarity to Drovdahl, Wickstrom doesn’t expect to relax her reading in retirement. “Once a librarian, always a librarian,” she said of her love of books. 

Caption: Mayor Katherine Ross and Irene Wickstrom, who served KCLS in the Snoqualmie Library as Librarian Services Manager. 

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