MENDOTA – Graves-Hume Public Library's new director, Emily Kofoid is on a mission - to give back to the community and the library that fostered her love of helping people.
Kofoid worked at the Graves-Hume Public Library when she was in high school. After earning her master's degree in Information and Library Science, then working as a librarian at St. Charles Public Library for nine years, Kofoid has returned to her hometown of Compton and to the library that started it all.
"I am glad that I didn't go right from grad school to here [Graves-Hume Public Library]. I think that would have been a disservice for the community and for myself because I wouldn't have gotten to see other places, learn about working in a place with a larger community, a larger budget. And I am glad to have been there first and bring those experiences back," she said.
In her new role, Kofoid may not be working with the public one-on-one as much as she was in her previous position, but she aims to reach out to the community. "I want to know what people need and hopefully I can help them with that," she said.
She also recalled a recent meeting she attended with other local service organizations. She hopes each organization can utilize the resources of each other to benefit the needs of their clients and the community.
Although the Graves-Hume Library continues to have the services and resources available that patrons are familiar with – books, reference materials, computers, children's activities, and guest speakers – Kofoid hopes to expand our view of today's library, as well.
Of course, books will always remain a mainstay of the library. Kofoid is currently expanding the young adult collection. "I love this area and feel it has so much to offer to young people (high school and early 20s). I'm excited to be adding more authors in this area," she said.
She also hopes to expand the adult Spanish collection.
Kofoid was also pleasantly surprised when a new adult book club that started last month attracted 16 people to discuss the club's first book. "Truthfully, I thought I was going to have to ask my mom to come so that I had at least one person attending," she joked.
However, the response was good. She was also excited to see the willingness of the new group to explore different topics.
In its initial stages, the Second Tuesday Book Club currently meets in the evening, but Kofoid is listening to the participants who also suggested meeting during the day. She is even thinking "outside of the box," or more like, outside the library. "I am thinking about possibilities for meeting other places, too. A book club doesn't have to meet at the library," she proposed.
Other unconventional activities she has been mulling over are a walking club, yoga class, read and wine night, couponing group, and a cooking club. Next week the Friends of the Library are hosting a Pinterest party for adults at the library. Participants will create holiday ornaments for the FOL Giving Tree and be able to make one to take home, too.
"I am also in the works of getting Wifi hotspot devices. I want people to be able to take something from us and use it in their everyday lives. For example, if they are going on vacation or looking for a job online, they can check out a device and take it with them," she said.
Ultimately, Kofoid wants to let the community know that the library is a place for resources, but also a place to bring people together. "When I was new to St. Charles, I didn't have anywhere to go to make new friends, make connections or just to get out of the house. And then I became a mom and then it was really hard to get out of the house sometimes. How do we get these people with different lifestyles connected and part of the community," she asked.
Kofoid recognized that the young adult demographic at the library is almost void.
Another area she noted is the lack of meeting places in the library. "I wish we had a room for a video conferences or place that small businesses could use for meetings. I think that is something really important. It is really unfortunate, but we don't," she said.
In the end, Kofoid hopes the library will serve the community as an informational, recreational and cultural place and hopes to offer more programming that supports the growth and creativity of individuals and fosters the spirit of community and the local economy.
She wants the community to see that the library is still relevant. The library is not just about books. It is about resources. It is about programming. It is about being a community center.
"The staff is fabulous here. They know what we have and promote it. I just want to expand on that."