From school tours to solving problems in emergencies, Jessica Musil keeps things running at the Library
Senior Administrative Assistant Jessica Musil has been an integral presence behind the scenes since before both the current Downtown and Ladd Library locations opened. She’s our latest featured staff member in our series introducing the people of the Cedar Rapids Public Library.
What does your job typically include?
My primary role is to assist the Library director, board of trustees, and leadership team – I focus on the little details so they can provide big picture strategy and service delivery to impact our community. The rest of my work can be described as ‘other duties as assigned’ – project management, maintenance coordination, proofreading, tour guide, and all around assistant for things that don’t necessarily fit anywhere else. My role is not straightforward to explain. My kids remain confused on how I can work at a library but have nothing to do with the materials or programs.
When did you start working at the Library?
I started in November 2012 – not long before Ladd opened in Feb. 2013 and downtown in Aug. 2013. My original ‘office’ was in the Westdale Mall administrative offices. My desk was parked right outside the director’s office, in the hall, on the way to the bathroom.
What made you want to work here?
I was an administrative assistant at a local hospital, but this job combined my professional skills and a lifelong love. Libraries and books have always felt like home to me (the 1985 library was my library growing up), and with the library being on the cusp of re-emerging in the community in a big way with two new buildings, I knew I would regret it if I didn’t at least apply.
What’s your favorite part about working here?
The library is always changing to meet the needs of our community and improve lives. We don’t accept the status quo and constantly look for ways to be a community connector. I’m never bored because we’re working on new initiatives all the time. And I get to work alongside such caring and compassionate individuals.
Do you have any moments or stories from the Library that stand out that you would want to share with patrons?
I have so many good stories. It’s hard to pick one, but here are a few stories that show the diversity of my role. I was the last staff member to leave Westdale Mall after staging a furniture sale when we moved downtown. I’ve helped on numerous school tours and witnessed kids’ excitement in their library. I was a co-author and editor for the research paper used to justify our library going fine free. I drove Bad Kitty author Nick Bruel to Prairie Ridge Elementary for his One2Read school tour. I’ve assisted staff during emergencies, including relaying information, physically moving items, and documenting processes for floods (flood of 2016), electrical outages, and pandemic responses.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I like to spend time with my husband, our two daughters, and our cat. When we’re not busy with the kids’ activities, I like to read and plan my next vacation.
What’s your favorite book genre? Why?
I don’t really have a favorite, more like several genres that I generally gravitate toward – dystopias, historical fiction, general literature, mystery. I select my reads based on the author, cover, book description, and sometimes, hype. I rarely read non-fiction.
Do you have a favorite book or author? What do you like about them?
I have several favorites that I will fall back on if I can’t find anything new or just want a familiar story. I regularly look for new releases from many authors whose books have stuck with me. I love multi-book series, rich stories that evoke emotion or self-reflection, something light and quick, or books that I think about for days after I’ve finished reading.
If you could pick a superpower, what would it be?
I’d love to disappear and instantly reappear in another place.