Grow Here: Gretchen Caserotti on Storytelling and Service

Gretchen Caserotti’s calling became crystal clear to her during children’s story time at New York Public Library.

Born and raised in Minnesota, Gretchen grew up in a home entrenched in the arts. After graduating high school, Gretchen bounced around the country uncovering pieces of herself in communities from Portland to New York City. In 2006, while working as an actress and waiting tables in the Big Apple, she realized that as much as she loved storytelling and performance art, acting wasn’t the outlet for her passions.  

She decided to make a change and hit the books twofold – as a graduate student at Pratt Institute and as a Children’s Librarian at New York Public Library. Amongst rows of books, Gretchen discovered her love of storytelling and passion for service colliding. As she worked toward earning her Master’s in Library Science, she learned about the human thought process. Matching this understanding with creativity, she discovered ways the library could be even more useful to the local community.

Upon graduating from Pratt Institute, Gretchen was offered a position as Head of Children’s Services by Darien Library in Connecticut – a big change from the library where she had been working with far fewer resources. Her first order business was reordering the children’s picture books. Putting her design knowledge to work, she said sayonara to the Dewey system and developed a method that made sense to both children and parents – organizing books by topic, giving children the opportunity to easily discover more on their own. For example, a child looking for a book about trucks would head to the transportation section where they can find books on trucks, trains, airplanes and more.

Four years ago, Gretchen and her family packed up and moved to Idaho, where she accepted an intriguing position as Director of Meridian Library District. Her first time at this level of management, Gretchen spent her first days in Meridian meeting the community and staff, asking what each new colleague expected of her as their new director. This instance was only an inkling of what remains first and foremost for Gretchen – community.

Gretchen approaches her job with a mindset focused on support – to support the library staff and find a way to reach success with every opportunity, and to serve as a steward of learning for the community. The collaborative spirit that spans the Boise Valley and the innate importance of relationships here has enabled Gretchen and her team to grow libraries in Meridian thoughtfully and purposefully, like the addition of UnBound and a community outreach department. She hopes to see this collaboration remain while taking diversity to new depths and welcome differing perspectives throughout the Boise Valley.