It seems as though the future is upon us. We have unlimited information at the palm of our hands in the form of smart phones. We are consistently accessing and adding to that information daily. Communication has become much quicker. It seems as though hard copies of information, such as books and encyclopedias are going out of date.
As the director of the Rushford Public Library, Sue Hart is responsible for noticing the changing culture around us and help Rushford locals adapt to it. Hart has been director for 17 years. In these years, she has seen drastic changes in the function of the library. “We have such a broad access to materials we didn’t have before,” said Hart.
To begin with, the library has always had a priority in helping patrons access research and information. Many years ago, looking up research could take a fair amount of time. But now, Hart summarizes, “It’s a lot easier than it used to be.”
While patrons used to rely on librarian assistance to research items, technology has helped make it easier to do things on your own. “Sometimes I feel a little neglected because people can just work around me now,” laughed Hart.
Hart still finds ways to assist those who come in. She’ll especially help those who are unfamiliar with the Internet. “I helped someone last week fill out a resume online,” commented Hart. She has also helped patrons with test proctoring, printing out tax forms for tax season, and of course, finding books to order from other libraries. “No two days are the same, you never know what’s going to happen,” said Hart.
Hart has had to learn more and more about social media, web design, and other technological items that weren’t in her wheelhouse a decade ago. “I never dreamed I would be this involved in (technology) 17 years later,” noted Hart.
Recently, to help encourage reading among the youth, the library promoted a Summer Reading Program. “We had a really good turnout this year,” said Hart. The program started in May. During the school day when elementary students were scheduled to have reading time, they would go over to the library. Hart would read to them, explain the summer program coming up, and show off prizes that they could win. Students would sign up and begin competing by reading as much as possible.
There were other notable events that the library put on in conjunction with the summer program. One of these events was a family swim night at the pool. They also had a bonfire to close out the program for the summer. Hart does her best to keep the program fun and interesting. “We love to play up summer solstice day. It’s the longest day of the year. So we do a read all day sort of thing,” said Hart.
Currently, the library is working on staying up to date with the ever-changing technology. With the library website, Hart has begun to implement e-books and apps for reading books or magazines on your tablet. There are a number of resources that you can find at “The venues keep changing on how to be informed or entertained, and we keep adapting with it,” said Hart. “I don’t know if I’ll ever retire.”