SECRETS OF THE LIBRARY: Library employees excel at their jobs

By Fran Cecere

When the phone rings at the Culpeper County Library, it is answered pleasantly by staff willing to give the caller the information and assistance they need. The Circulation Assistants at the front desk of the Library do more than check out books. Geeta Ganiga, one of the staff, stated they scan, organize, and shelve returned books, assist patrons using the computers to search for books, notify people when a requested book is available, and collect overdue funds. Susan Keller, Director of the Library, stated that five part time or full time people staff this area and are assisted by volunteers. Usually two people at a time work the desk. Ganiga, a Library employee for four years, stated “I love to see the faces of the little ones. They get so excited when they check out books or attend special children’s events.”

Fifty volunteers work in the library and an additional 50 to 75 volunteers help with the summer reading program. Evelyn Fenley, a Volunteer, works wherever needed and also teaches computer classes. She said that one funny challenge is when patrons want to find a certain book but they do not know the name of the book or the author, but they do know the story line. Occasionally Fenley will use the computer to try to determine what book fits the description.

One of the main volunteer programs is the Library Book Store. Several years ago it was moved from a small storage room to its current location. The store is open Monday through Thursday from 11am to 1pm and 5pm to 7pm; Friday 11am to 1pm; and Saturday 11am to 2pm.  Celine Siira manages the bookstore and Kathy Clevenger coordinates the schedule of 25 volunteers. They staff the store, shelve books, and assist customers if needed. Siira said, “I enjoy this job because I really love books and interacting with the people who sometimes come into the store just to browse.” Most of the books in the Library Store are donated by community members.

Lori Rice is a Library Associate who works at the Information Desk, Youth Services Desk, the Circulation Desk, and also helps with teen events. She responds to patrons’ questions in person and over the phone. Most inquiries she receives are about the Internet, computer programs such as Microsoft Word or Excel, and the courses offered free by the Library. One of the most popular courses is the Genealogy Class. Rice stated, “At this time of year people request information about the tax laws and Tax Forms that are available at the Library.” Rice is fluent in Spanish and loves having the opportunity to improve her vocabulary by talking with Spanish speaking patrons and by using the “Pronunciator” resource offered free on the Library website. In addition, she feels one of the most exciting days she had at the Library was the day of the total eclipse. David Komar, the Astronomy Club leader, used his specially equipped telescope and let the public view the event close up. The staff also handed out the safety glasses so adults and children could look at the different stages of the eclipse.

In the Local History Room there is a Digital Microfilm Scanner, Scan Pro 1100. Julie Bushong explained that the Library has microfilms of Culpeper Star Exponent papers from 1902 to the present. There are also County Court records from 1749 to 1868, Wills from 1749 to the present, and Deeds from 1749 to 1864. The first time an individual uses this scanner they receive assistance from Bushong or another staff member. One of the features of this scanner is that information can be saved on a flash drive or a print copy can be made for a quarter a page. This scanner is often used by people seeking historical or ancestry information, or obituaries.

One of the workers In the Library’s Youth Section is Debbie Holmes, a Licensed Elementary Teacher. She says this is the best job she’s ever had. Holmes presents Storytime programs at Headstart Classes to help children to obtain pre-literacy skills. Holmes particularly enjoys the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Program. These classes, held on the first Saturday of the month, encourage 3rd through 5th graders to expand their knowledge. Holmes enjoys learning how different children think. She stated, “The children are encouraged to express their own ideas. One week, when they finished testing the catapults they made, one boy put it on his head because it also made a great hat.”

Many of these people will be helping with the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Library in the Southgate Plaza site. Exciting and fun events are planned throughout the month of March, 2018. Please visit or the Culpeper County Library Facebook page for more information.

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