MLA Featured Library Employee — Donna Riegel

Meet our most recent Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Donna Riegel!

What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

Dr. Donna L. Riegel – Director – Wolfner Talking Book and Braille Library (part of the MO State Library)

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

I’ve been “working” in libraries since just after the flood…ok…maybe not quite that long.  I started out as a page, so I guess you could say I’ve progressed fairly well.    With multiple degrees, I’ve spent a lot of time in libraries…so decided I might as well work in them, too. When given the opportunity to get a library degree and a promotion, I couldn’t say no.  Over the years I have been a librarian in a corporate setting, in an academic setting, and in local, county, and, now, state libraries.

What keeps you coming back every day?

My first impulse was to say “the paycheck”, which, while true enough, isn’t the major motivation.  I like my job and the people I work with.  There is a shared vision of serving the people of Missouri with the best resources we can.  I have worked in a number of libraries, all with their own unique qualities; however, Wolfner staff have a passion for their patrons that I have rarely seen anywhere else.  These people care about the patrons in a truly personal way.  I will miss that when I retire.

What’s challenging about your work?

Making it all work together.  Taking the best of a situation and making it truly amazing.

Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?

Before coming to Wolfner, I had never worked with a state agency, nor had I worked with special clientele.  There was no way I was prepared for the awesomeness of staff and patrons.  Working at Wolfner is a true career…a means of serving the needs of our patrons in ways they didn’t imagine.  Getting the message out is also important.  We serve only a small percentage of those eligible for service.

Who is one of your mentors?

I have been fortunate to have had many mentors along the way…even if they didn’t know they were mentors.  I’ve learned something from every boss I’ve worked for…most of the time, learning great things; sometimes learning how not to act as a manager.  Barbara Reading, who was the State Librarian who hired me, was one of the best. There were probably times when she questioned whether she had made the right choice!  I like to believe I lived up to her expectations.

What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.

I’m currently reading the Miranda James’s Cat in the Stacks mystery series.  It’s light reading, which is what I need after a day at the office. And its protagonist is a librarian with a cat.  What else do you need! It’s kinda like Jessica Fletcher…way too many people dying in her vicinity…but keep ‘em coming!

On a more serious note, I am “hooked” on Finding Your Roots on PBS.  I am always astounded on how much information they can come up with for their subject celebrities.


Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!