After a long career in public relations at Vincennes University, it never occurred to me that I would be working at the Knox County Public Library, but I’m glad I do.
It was December 2019 when I accepted an invitation from Emily Bunyan, library director, to join the staff. That means I served prior to the pandemic, during the pandemic (including when services were restricted to “grab and go” options) and thankfully during the library’s re-emergence to full service, even expanded services.
It’s been a wild ride and an enjoyable one, too. And it’s been a true honor to serve with the dedicated staff at the Knox County Public Library. I have discovered there is a reason the word public appears in the name of our library. It’s because the public comes first as the staff regularly goes beyond the call of duty when providing services.
While many state and federal government offices were closed to the public, or offered limited services during the pandemic, the staff of the library “filled the gap,” answering questions about multiple government services, including helping complete required forms to receive services, such as energy assistance, that persons were entitled to receive. Persons received assistance from library staff, regardless of the patron’s level of computer skills, even if they had never used a computer before. Staff consistently went above and beyond, including making copies and faxing the required government forms, at no charge.
While becoming familiar with multiple forms and Web sites was a challenge, and often took a lot of staff time, there is no question that many local persons would not have received the assistance they were eligible for, without the patient and friendly help of library staff.
Persons who came into the library frustrated and even angry about being unable to complete government forms, left the library grateful for the help they received, often thanking staff repeatedly for helping them in a courteous way. It was rewarding to restore hope for persons who had almost given up, before seeking help from the library.
Prior to working here, I was aware of many library services, since I have fond memories of walking to the library as a child, and taking my children to library programs for many years. Since joining the staff, however, I have become aware of so many more services, as well as library collections that are fascinating to discover and explore. Best of all, these are freely available to the public, regardless of income. This is because of the support of Knox County taxpayers. I truly have come to appreciate the investment in our library due to its positive impact on the lives of so many people.
As a relatively new employee, I’m also grateful for the patience and good humor of my fellow staff members who showed me the ropes, teaching me so many processes and tricks of the trade of my job, often multiple times since, after all, I am an old dog. And speaking of old dogs, I should mention that even my old dog, Sadie, loves the library, which hosted a recent pet photo day that she enjoyed hamming it up for an amused photographer.