Rural Librarian: Welcome to Harman, WV

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Welcome to Harman, WV

It is odd to be back in a library again, a rural library in Harman, West Virginia. In a town with a population of a little over 100, a library like the Pioneer Memorial Public Library can play a vital role in the community.

I worked at the Baltimore Museum of Art library during college and after I graduated. I am a book rat from way back raised on the great Enoch Pratt Free Library system of Baltimore, Maryland. This continues to be one of the best employment experiences of my entire life. On Mondays the museum was closed to the public. But I as museum employee was free to roam the halls of the museum, blissfully alone. On special occasions, we ate lunch in the Renaissance Room. Attached to the library and not open to the general public, the Renaissance Room had been exported from the old country, all oaken panels and traffic-worn hearth stones. I'm pretty sure that the table we ate at had once belonged to King Arthur. ;-) Sometimes I could go to the prints and drawings department at lunch and ask to see prints and drawings in storage. What a dream to see a print by Durer or an exquisite drawing up close, personal and with no glass barrier. Exquisite.

Later, I worked at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library of Johns Hopkins University, I started out as a circulation and reserve room clerk. I had friends from all over the world and enjoyed being in an academic environment. It was full of young, curious, and intelligent people. A year later I was promoted to science periodicals supervisor, a strange job that had me working three floors underground for most of the day. The JHU library had a couple of million books and I spent some quality time working through subjects that I was always curious about: history, psychology, and art history.

Overtime I grew antsy to try other things, to work in other worlds, and went on to have jobs as a graphic designer, filmmaker, art director, teacher, adjunct lecturer, and grant writer.

And now I am back in a library. As a neighbor to Harman School we serve a school population of 200 or so. Because we are on a well-traveled road to resorts, we sometimes get tourists passing through, or camping locally on route to other places. We get just as many tourists in the spring-summer season as we do in fall and winter.

The library is funded through many sources including the local Randolph County Commission, the Randolph County Board of Education, the United Way, the Tucker Community Fund, and through local fundraising efforts.

I have been on board for a few weeks and I'm trying to introduce myself around the community, and figure out the routine of the library and patrons. There's still a lot for me to learn and to figure out, so I am going slow and not implementing any big changes for until I can intelligently discern what needs to be done. The people here are friendly and like to read! Who could ask for anything more?

And in the meantime, have I had time to read? Not a whole lot. I did read a great short story by Jennifer Egan called "Black Box" in the June 4&11, 2012 New Yorker. Egan is really a fiction pioneer and invents a new style of writing for this spy thriller story.

If you are in our neck of the woods, stop in and say howdy to me at Pioneer Memorial Public Library in little ole Harman, West Virginia.

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