PINEVILLE, Mo. — When opportunity knocked, Jeana Gockley couldn’t say no.

Gockley has served as director of the McDonald County Library for 10 months, but after this week, she will take on new adventures in the Springfield-Greene County Library District as manager of the Schweitzer Brentwood Branch Library.

The library, formerly the Brentwood Branch Library, closed in April to undergo $2.5 million worth of capital improvements. Its grand opening will be Jan. 7.

Gockley said she is excited about her new position, but she expects it to be different than what she is used to.

“It’s a much larger system,” she said. “There are a lot more levels, and people are very specialized.”

Gockley will leave behind an improved library system in McDonald County, according to Southwest City branch manager Retha Mitchell. Gockley worked hard as the library director and made improvements to all branches of the library, she said.

Gockley agreed with that assessment, but she said the improvements weren't due to her alone.

“I sure feel like I’ve done a lot,” she said. “Honestly, all the things I couldn’t have done without the staff here. They’ve been wonderful and very supportive. There have been a lot of changes in short time, and without their support, none of it would happen.”

The 2016 budget, which runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, had not yet been created when Gockley accepted the position in February. Getting a budget set was her first order of business, and it wasn't an easy task.

“We got significantly less money this year because the state cut some of our funding, so we had to slash parts of our budget,” she said. “We had to buy significantly less material and cut some of our computer support.”

She also spent time restructuring and reorganizing the three libraries, especially the Pineville location. The other two branches are in Southwest City and Noel.

“There is much more welcoming and inviting space for children,” Gockley said.

Gockley’s history with children runs deep. In addition to having her own son, she also served as the children’s librarian at the Joplin Public Library for almost 12 years before accepting the job at the McDonald County Library.

Gockley helped coordinate the biannual book sale in April. She and her team cleaned out all of their locations and sold household items that the libraries were no longer using in addition to books. The library ended up raising $1,300 — three times the amount normally raised. 

“I really want to brag about how the 2017 budget is looking,” Gockley said. "I'm really pleased with how it turned out."

The library’s budget for 2017 will have more money than the 2016 budget, which will allow the new director to purchase more materials. Gockley already has planned out that budget, and the McDonald County Library board of trustees is expected to approve it at its December meeting.

In McDonald County, Gockley was in charge of all aspects of three libraries. In Springfield, she will have director duties at only one library branch.

“I’m really excited because I feel like I’ve been spread really thin,” she said. 

But the one thing she isn’t excited about is leaving McDonald County.

“I will really miss the McDonald County community and library staff members,” she said. “The community has been very welcoming. I hadn’t planned to be here such a short time, but when things happen, sometimes you just have to say yes.”


Jeana Gockley hopes to focus on public service as the manager of the Schweitzer Brentwood Branch Library in Springfield.

“I want to be helping people and not be in my office so much,” she said. “Helping people find the resources they need is probably what makes me most excited.”

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