ONTONAGON - The Ontonagon Township Library is looking for a new librarian.
After more than seven years Eric Smith informed the Library Bard that he has accepted a position with the Mason County District Library at its main branch in Ludington.
There have been many changes to the library in those seven years, and Smith said he is proud of the advances that he and library assistant Laura Lahaie have accomplished. He noted that groundwork for those advances were already laid by his predecessors. "We just continued what they started in bringing technology and service to the community," Smith said.
Smith said he is most proud that he and Laura have made the library an inviting, comfortable place for people of all ages. He said that he is especially pleased that patrons now ask "Do we have this or that book or information?"
"The use of the word 'we' tells me they have taken pride and ownership in the place and are happy to be a part of it," he said.
Smith is also proud that he, Lahaie and the library board decided to become part of the statewide loan system. He continued that the group agonized over the extensive work that had to be done to make that possible. They had to re-do every bar code of every book in the library. The result is that more than 3 million books are now available to Ontonagon area patrons.
The Ontonagon Library is now the first place that readers can come when they are looking for material. "We can almost always get it for them," he said.
The library has also become an educational center of the community. Smith credits Lahaie for that. A kickoff science program with hands-on projects begans the annual summer reading program at the library. Kids work with adults to make rockets, their own batteries and a myriad of other exciting projects.
Lahaie also directs a program each week where an adult comes in and reads to children about their job or profession. Many of the readers are professional women which are role models for young girls.
Smith said he has been fortunate to work with a library board that has clear vision and knowledge of what they want in a library. The media center features up to date technology and is used not only by residents, but tourists who want to use computers and other devises. The talking books program is bringing more books to those with disabilities in the area.
Although Smith will be leaving, he said Lahaie, the board and who ever is hired as the next librarian will continue to make the library a center for learning for all ages in the area.
The board has set a deadline of February 7 to accept applications for a new librarian. Résumés can be dropped off at the library. Smith will be leaving for his new post at the end of the month. LaHaie, an eight year veteran clerk , and a sub remain. The board hopes to have a new librarian as soon as possible.