When the library burned, we thought our lives were over and cried at least twice, once for the beautiful building that had meant so much to our lives, and once for the library cat that did not survive,” says Julie Hart. She remembers the fire that destroyed Paducah’s Carnegie Library when she was a child.
Growing up on Cairo Road, a favorite pastime of Julie and her sister was coming to the library with their mother. “It was magic, and probably then and there a seed was planted in my little brain about what to do with my life.”
That seed steered Julie to an undergraduate degree in English from Lipscomb University and a graduate degree in Library Science from Vanderbilt’s George Peabody College. And after decades in library administration in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Missouri, the time was right for Julie to come home.
She began working as Director of the current McCracken County Public Library in June 2009. Of her years away, Julie says, “In the back of my mind was the thought I wanted to come back to Kentucky, but I felt I needed some experience under my belt before I thought about it. Thirty years later, here I am. Paducah is home.”
Julie delights in all things Paducah. She finds the restoration and preservation of older homes particularly exciting and has discovered bicycling and yoga since her arrival here. Long interested in plants (her father farmed and her grandmother taught her about gardening), she counts the sight of hollyhocks and lilacs in her neighborhood among her blessings. She enjoys Paducah’s riverfront, running into old acquaintances, and she loves Kentucky basketball. “I’m thrilled to be back in a state where they actually know what a round ball is,” she jokes.
Julie praises her predecessor and the library staff. “Marie Liang left a powerful, positive footprint here and an amazing staff dedicated to providing excellent service to the community. It has been my job to try not to mess up anything.”
One project undertaken since Julie has been on board is the purchase of “100 picture books every child should read before going into first grade” for each Head Start class in Paducah and McCracken County. The program was sponsored by the library, Friends of the Library, and Paducah Bank. Julie says that when she approached Paducah Bank about partnering with the library to purchase books, the response was almost immediate. “Their matching grant with us will provide a world of imagination to be placed in each of the rooms that provides early education for our future,” she explains.
A new Hinkleville Road book drop site was also recently established. At the Paducah Bank ATM location between Olivet Baptist Church and Olivet Church Road, it allows people to return books without getting out of their cars and is a popular site.
“Thank you, Paducah Bank!” says Julie. The first day it was placed on the loop, 48 books were returned without any public notification.
Offering praise to the many individuals and organizations which support the McCracken County library, Julie is clearly excited to work with them in her role as Executive Director.
“I wish everyone had the opportunity to do what makes them happy in the place that makes them happy,” she says.
Additional library programs recentlyimplemented or currently planned include:
- introduction of a Library Elf to which patrons can subscribe to receive email notices of holds, overdue materials, and alerts of upcoming due dates for everyone in the family
- new A to Z maps and Hobbies and Crafts databases, which can be accessed at home
- lunch-time craft programs
- adult summer reading programs similar to those in place for children
- interfiling of the fiction collection so that westerns, mysteries, and science fiction are not separated, allowing the browser to see what is available in spite of a specific label for a book
- special events and author book signings
- establishment of a bird watching area on the garden side of the building
- library cards with community specific designs
- laptop computers that can be checked out for use in the library, allowing users to study in a group setting or a parent to use a computer while remaining upstairs with children
- a 175th birthday party for Andrew Carnegie, with photos of the old Carnegie library available (to be held November 25, 2010
DROP in ANYTIME!
Paducah Bank is PROUD to be the host site for the McCracken County Library’s West End book drop at our ATM located at 2777 West Park Drive next to Olivet Baptist Church. The drop is situated between the Paducah Bank ATM and two utility payment boxes. The books are picked up daily by the library. If additional directions are needed, please call the library at 442-2510.