Library staff delights in serving area readers

Published 9:00 am Saturday, February 18, 2023

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For decades, the Clark County Public Library has been an informative and educational place where people can go for entertainment and leisure.

Though staff changes from time to time, the bond that holds staff together remains strong.

During February, National Library Lovers Month, employees of the Clark County Public Library spoke about what makes their group unique and the varied interests that have led them to their passions.

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“I just appreciate that everybody brings something else to the table,” said Tasha McCord, the teen librarian. “Because libraries are all about informal learning, they’re allowed to bring their personalities to work and their interests to work and connect with the patrons of Clark County.”

Since many staff members have dual degrees, several attractive topics get featured.

For example, adults interested in macabre tales might benefit from the Murder and Mayhem series, which allows them to learn about stories surrounding true crime.

“[Staff is] able to use our local history room and create a program that appeals to so many people,” McCord added. “Podcasts are so popular.”

Other staff members incorporate interests such as gardening and birdwatching for those interested in nature.

Along with the recently retired John Maruskin, certain personnel even incorporate artistry to allow hands-on learning opportunities.

Youth services alone account for various possibilities.

“I do a storytime once a week that includes children from birth to five years old,” said Youth Services Director Christie Gasdorf, who does so along with Youth Services Librarian Misty Strain. “I work on getting together our family night programs…usually it just involves something that the families can do together.”

Family night programs take place every other Tuesday, with examples of activities including making crafts, building with Legos, and more.

Among other tasks, Gasdorf also chooses an early reader collection of books while contributing to the artwork on signs and bulletin boards.

And, while the staff has plenty of education and experience, they’re still dedicated to learning more.

Previously, Gasdorf has spent time researching practices of both the New York and Chicago Public Library.

“[I] just kind of brainstorm and look at what they do, and try to…make that fit in our community,” she said. “Sometimes [I] look at Pinterest and just kind of modify things that I see teachers use.”

Jeff Gurnee, the assistant library director at Clark County Public Library, talked about his path to library science and answered what strengths the staff showcased.

“I always liked libraries as a kid. I worked in my school library in college,” he said. “Everyone works really well together. Everyone’s very accepting of the teamwork that is necessary for running a library like this.”

While going to the public library to read is common, a desire to work with the public is also vital.

“If someone says, ‘I want to work in a library because I just want to read all the time’, it’s probably not going to be the right thing for you,” Gurnee added. “We want people who are here to serve the patrons [and] who come to interact with them.”

Perhaps nobody has worked more diligently to ensure the experience of serving patrons is worthwhile than Julie Maruskin.

Maruskin, the current library director, is retiring at the end of February.

She received praise from her staff, especially about how she handled matters during COVID.

“[She] made our safety and welfare a priority..and she always has,” McCord said. “When my dog passed away, she was just so kind and understanding. She’s just a really caring and compassionate person.”

Regardless of personnel changes, the Clark County Public Library staff looks forward to its continual work for the community.

“The library does change lives, whether it’s from…connecting people [or] providing a whole new world for them,” Gurnee said.