Antioch Public Library District

If the Library Could Speak: Celebrating 100 Years

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Favorite free-time activity
Listening in on programs. I don’t know that the staff realizes it, but I am a very fun, love learning new things and meeting new people kind of library. Oh! And reading of course… 

Favorite Quote
“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” –Albert Einstein

Tell me about your childhood
I had a very modest childhood and moved a lot before I was an adult. I spent my early years housed in various locations up and down the Main St. Business District. First of course Walter Chinns newsstand to the East of the Antioch Flower Shop, then I also lived in the JJ Blinkers building, David’s Bistro and the Antioch Limo/old Village Hall/jail. All this before moving north to the Antioch Grade School. All the while, I provided books for learning and enjoyment to the Adults and Children of Antioch. While I moved a lot, I was loved and often had the local children and adults personally carry my books from one location to the next for me. I spent a good part of my mid adult years to age 50 in the old white farmhouse on the location of my current building. 

What are some of your happiest memories?
I have so many happy memories! Getting a home that was mine and only mine in 1970 was a great one. Every memory of a child that found the perfect book does make me very happy too. Of course I do enjoy reminiscing about children that have grown up to now bring their GRANDCHILDREN here or that grandchild that is now bringing their children! Now that makes me feel kind of old. But happy nonetheless.

Who have been some of your dearest friends?
There have been many over the years for sure. The first ladies of the Antioch Woman’s Club for sure, then each and every Library Director has taken such care of me. Every patron though that has come in weekly to study for exams, read the weekly paper, access their emails or pick up their holds becomes a dear friend. I am secretly a little partial to the children who stop to sit for a while in my aisles, searching for and enjoying the perfect book. 

Why do so many people think libraries are irrelevant and out-of-date now?
The age of electronics I think has led people to believe this. But it is so very not true. Many feel that if they can access it from home they have everything they need. Not everyone can access things from home and those that can could also utilize online services from the Library just as they do others that they often have to pay extra for. Also, in bygone days the Library was only a source of books and information. Today the Library is that and more. I am a meeting space, a place for entertainment and live informational programming. I provide community for those that do not have it and a safe space for all that enter. Libraries evolve as all things do and I am no exception. Once updated I will be even more for my community.

What ways has the Library evolved services over the last 100 years to address the growing needs of the community?
Oh my, let’s see. In the early days I was just a small bookshelf with a few books to browse. As time went by card catalogs were added to assist in finding items in the growing collection required to meet the growing wants of a growing community. Since the 1970’s computers were added and updated as technology changed. This allowed for community members without one the ability to utilize one and for those without internet to access that as well. Classes in technology were added to help with the basics in not only buying but using a computer. We added to our collection to include VHS, then DVD’s and Blu-ray. As time progressed and the community got busier we added a vast online catalog of downloadable content and databases. While Antioch is still a small community compared to many there is still as always a want and desire to maintain a community feel. My next focus is to provide more space for teens, children and small businesses as well as the wider community. This will help me offer that ability for more of our community to meet, interact, and be inspired.

How has the library adapted its services to the community in view of the pandemic?
I still remember the scarlet fever epidemic that hit Antioch back in the 1920’s, and how although it dampened my spirits, I didn’t let that get me down for long. I am strong and am quite proud of my staff and how quickly they adapted to the COVID pandemic. We had already years earlier formed a Safety and Behavior Committee. This group set into action researching and determining what needed to be done while we were closed, when we opened, and how to address further issues with the pandemic. From the start staff switched in person programs to online, eventually they began curbside pick-up and then opened for basic services. During closure they managed to connect through social media, returned phone and email communications and got virtual library cards into the hands of people that needed them. We also made sure that our Wi-Fi access remained open so that anyone could access the internet via the parking lot during our closure. 

What do you imagine would create the greatest impression on our own founders if they could experience our current library?
I think our founders would first see how large the community has grown in general. I think they then might be in amazement at just how successful a community member this little ole Library has become since its humble start in Walter Chinn’s Newsstand.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Right here on Main St. where I have always been of course! Five years seems like such a small amount of time but with technology I can bet that there will be new offerings to the public as-well-as an even more robust programming schedule both in person and online. I am confident that in the coming years, as in the past, I will still be turning the lights down at the end of each day with left over sounds of the community’s daily activity still lightly humming in my aisles.