Summer reading season has just begun – a good time for a conversation with the new library director at the Mary Wood Weldon Memorial Library, Barren County’s public library. For those who haven’t met her yet, Ami Sandell assumed the library director’s position in October 2018 after serving as director at the William B. Harlan Memorial Library in Tompkinsville for the previous eight years. A graduate of Western Kentucky University who went on to earn a Master of Library Science degree at the University of Kentucky, Sandell currently lives in Adair County with her husband, Bill, and their young son, Judah.
Question: So, Ami, what should we know about the contemporary library scene?
Ami Sandell: Libraries are no longer just a repository of books. They are a community hub, a place to foster communication, learning and community. With so many digital resources available, libraries have had to adapt in order to continue to meet the needs of patrons. Libraries are no longer quiet spaces, nor should they be.
Question: What might we find on a typical visit to our library?
AS: On any given day you can enter the MWWML and see children’s programs, teen programs and adult programs. Children are learning to love the library at a young age, not by silently sitting in the children’s area, but by dancing, singing and reading in Ms. Marla’s (Marla Ford, Youth Services Manager) story times. Teens are developing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills through Ms. Barbara’s (Barbara Brodt, Youth Services Librarian & Bookmobile Librarian) Lego Robotics and the Fab Lab. Adults are learning new skills and hobbies when they participate in Amy’s (Amy Tollison, Adult Services Manager) gardening programs, computer classes and painting parties. People who are unable to come into the library become part of Barbara Brodt’s bookmobile and outreach programming, allowing them continuous access to information.
Question: What might people be surprised to learn about our library?
AS: Clubs, businesses and community groups make use of our meeting rooms. People gather for conversation in the internet cafe. People who may not otherwise enter the library are coming in for a myriad of programming, and once they are here, they see all that the library has to offer. The library remains a safe space for anyone needing information and community resources.
Question: What do you see as the mission of today’s library?
AS: We advocate for every individual’s intellectual freedoms, we promote fundamental literacy skills for children and adults, and we do it for free, allowing equal access to all members of our community. The library must be ever changing, adapting to the needs of the community in order to thrive. To quote Philipp Schmidt, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab’s Learning Initiative, “Libraries are the last safe, free, truly public space where people from all walks of life may encounter each other.”
Here are a few fun facts about our library:
– Jennie Jean Jones, public librarian in Glasgow from 1940-1967, is one of the local characters to be portrayed in Glasgow’s upcoming Harvest of History event.
– Young readers can borrow up to 50 children’s books at a time (yes, 50!) from Mary Wood Weldon Memorial Library.
– Books can be purchased for as little as 50 cents each at spring and fall book sales sponsored by the Friends of the Library volunteer organization.
– Photocopying and FAX services are available to library patrons for a nominal fee.
– Updates on library programming and new books are available via a monthly newsletter and articles in local newspapers.
For more information about the library, visit: http://www.weldonpubliclibrary.org.