There is no eggshell white paint on the walls of Sondra Murphy’s office at the Oak Bluffs Public Library. There are only bright, vivacious colors. One wall is covered in polka dots.

The library director is nothing if not unconventional. In her three years as director and two before that as the children’s librarian, she organized an 18-hole mini golf course starting at the circulation desk and ending at the children’s library upstairs, rocked around the stacks with a 1950s-era sock hop, enrolled a lot of kids in a superhero training academy. Once she roasted a whole pig on the library lawn.

“Free food always gets people to the library,” she said.

“Oak Bluffs is quirky, and eccentric, and alive, and very vibrant. You discover more about the library every time you have a program here, and I think it humanizes us, the staff. At the end of our sock hop this year, the entire staff was on the dance floor.”

Ms. Murphy is widely credited with transforming the town library from a moribund institution mired in dysfunction to a thriving community space that is usually packed with people, served by an enthusiastic staff.

But she is leaving the job she loves, a development greeted with sadness by town officials, library staff and patrons. She recently accepted a job as youth service coordinator at the Worcester Public Library. Soon she will be introducing chidren to the joys of reading in the second largest city in Massachusetts, overseeing a staff of 15 people and five branches.

“I think it’s the right move, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy,” she said in a recent interview. “I’m leaving with a heavy heart because everyone really embraced me. Not many people get to do what I’ve done in such a short time. I feel extremely lucky that the trustees trusted me, or had this faith in me. They must have seen something in me to allow me to do the hare-brained things I’ve done.”

But the unconventional librarian began a job search for reasons that are all too conventional these days on the Vineyard. She is losing the house she has lived in for the past four years because the landlord is putting the property up for sale.

“I started to get worried,” she said. “I didn’t want to live in a dark basement apartment, or take something just because it’s there, or pay more than I could afford, which a lot of people do,” she said. “I’m not leaving because I don’t have a place to live, but that was the catalyst.”

For the same cost of a dark basement apartment on Martha’s Vineyard, Ms. Murphy expects to get a two-bedroom apartment or a small house in the Worcester area, where she grew up.

It is a dilemma she knows well. She has lost staff because of housing issues, and potential employees couldn’t be hired for the same reason.

She didn’t set out to become a librarian. “I wanted a career where I was doing something that I wasn’t selling my soul, I was helping people, but also I could make a decent living,” she said. 
After graduating from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, she was encouraged to pursue a master’s degree. She was not thrilled with the prospect of more school, but decided that her original goal of founding a magazine was probably not realistic.

Though she was a voracious reader, and spent a lot of her time at local libraries, what seems an obvious career path now just didn’t click.

“One day my Dad said, ‘You love to read, you love libraries, why don’t you be a librarian?’”

At the age of 25, with a master’s degree in library and information science from Simmons College in hand, she moved to the Vineyard to begin her first job.

She concedes that even she surrendered a bit to the stereotype of librarians, a concept she no longer finds humorous.

“I get asked all the time, where’s your bun, where’s your glasses, why aren’t you shushing me,” Ms. Murphy said. “I just don’t find that amusing any more. I work so hard to make that not who I am.”

Library programming, a relatively new concept in the field, has brought many new people into the Oak Bluffs library. Ms. Murphy has worked to create what she calls a “third space,” somewhere between school and home, or work and home, where patrons can indulge a wide variety of interests.

“You have to evolve or die in the library world,” she said, noting it’s easy to get e-books or look up information from home. “Why would you come into the library if you just want to pick up a book? You’re coming because the staff makes you feel welcome, and you’re offering something they can’t get online or at home. When I’m walking down the stairs, and I happen to see two people hugging because they haven’t seen each other in six months, that’s wonderful to me. That means it’s a community.”

Her outlook about the library she will leave is characteristically upbeat.

“The future of this library is very bright,” Ms. Murphy said. “My staff is amazing. They understand my vision and they’re going to keep it going.”

Oct. 16 will be her last day at the library. Coincidentally, it is the 10-year anniversary of the new library building, and Ms. Murphy is busy planning an event complete with a champagne toast.

“I don’t want it to be a party for me,” Ms. Murphy said. “I want a party before that. I want many parties.”

Nothing if not unconventional.