A new, but familiar face has taken over as director of the Swanton Public Library. The last name may also be familiar to longtime patrons of the library.
Adam Walter was officially hired as library director in February after being appointed interim director in October. He replaces Janelle Thomas.
He first started at the library six years ago following graduation from Bowling Green State University, where he studied sculpture and sociology.
“Before that, I had no experience working at a library. I did basic minimum wage type jobs and played guitar in some bands. Also, I enjoy stone carving and have had been nominated for and won awards for some,” Walter said. “But I’ve always liked to read, and frequented the library.”
He was a part-time desk clerk, then was promoted to cataloging, processing inter-library loans, and the library’s outreach program. He took the adult services position at the beginning of 2017.
“In summation, I started from the bottom, (circulation desk on the ground floor) now I’m at the top (the big office upstairs). It’s pretty wild how everything fell into place,” he said.
He felt that experience gave him a knowledge of not only the library and how most of the jobs are done, but also gave put him in contact with the community.
“The staff also supported me getting the (director) position, and I am very thankful because that was a big consideration for the trustees when choosing the next director,” said Walter.
With his position at the library, Walter is following in the footsteps of his grandmother, Imogene Walter, whose name is among those on a plaque at the library. She began working at the library when it was still located in the high school on Cherry Street. She worked with Dan McQuade, an attorney and current Swanton Public Library trustee, in the 1970s to petition the state for funding to build the library’s current facility on Chestnut Street.
“She was very proud of the library and always encouraged me to use it,” Walter said of his grandmother. “I always felt I had the upper hand in school when writing reports due to her extensive knowledge of the reference materials. As for always appreciating the library and reading, she was an avid reader and always encouraged reading. She always had a book sitting next to her, and most of the family on her side is the same way.”
His ultimate goal for the library is to make it a place where people can be educated and entertained. To that end, he is looking at current trends in other libraries and trying out a few new things, such as the “beyond books” theme. It involves obtaining items such as crafting materials, board games, wifi hot spots, and other items for people to check out.
“We have purchased board games – for all age levels and interests- and are planning a family game night soon,” said Walter. “We also obtained two wifi hot spots from Verizon that can be checked out. So our patrons will now have the opportunity to take the internet home with them if the don’t have access, are going on vacation, or are having connectivity issues.”
The library is also working on having local artists showcased on a monthly basis, and gave Swanton students e-cards so they can utilize the Libby and Overdrive apps on tablets and smart phones. The e-cards have been successful, and led to a spike, almost double, in the monthly check-outs.
“But overall, I hope we can create a bigger impact with engaging the community,” said Walter. “We already do a great job, but I’m interested in what the staff wants to do, because we have excellent employees that all offer something different to make this place unique.”
He encourages community members to stop in and see what the library has to offer. “Today, libraries are more than just a collection of books.”
There is programming offered for all ages and interests, such as weekly yoga classes and story time for children. There are also monthly clubs, and the summer reading program is in full swing.
“If we don’t have something that may be of interest to you, I would love to hear any suggestions from members of the community,” Walter. “After all, the library belongs to the community, and we are grateful for the support we have received. Just stop in some time; you might be surprised what you find.”
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010 or on Twitter @Swan_Enterprise