Jenny Simon
Jenny Simon
Jenny Simon, Spring Valley Public Library's (SVPL) new director, has always felt comfortable being surrounded by books.

She began reading at a very early age, progressing through all the chapter books by Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

"Absolutely, yes, I love to read. I remember the first book I was able to read independently - 'The Easter Bunny's Lost Egg,'" said Simon.

Having chosen to pursue the library director's position following Dianne Sikkink's recent retirement, she's now surrounded by volume upon volume of books that she hopes members of the community will want to take home from the library and read independently or to their children. Simon worked in the Kingsland Elementary and High School media center before being hired at SVPL.

"Leaving the school was about wanting to take on a new adventure here. I loved my job at the school. I loved the kids, the staff, everything. I was just ready to take on a new and different challenge," she said. "I'll miss the school kids every day, but when summer comes, I know I'll be seeing a lot more of those kids here at the library.

"I have the experience working in a library, I love interacting with people, the public, I have experience coordinating different programs in a past job working at RCTC with youth and community programs, and this smushed all that together...I get to work with the public - kids and adults - and books, coordinate programs, kind of the best of all of it in one job."

She admitted that she has a lot to learn, but she has enthusiasm and the support of a solid library staff, the library board and the city administration.

She's excited to meet more people. Although she's lived here 11 years, there's a lot of people she still doesn't know, she explained.

"I look forward to expanding the programs that are already in place, adding new programs for youth and adults, keeping up with technology - which is an ongoing challenge," she said. "I want to make sure the Spring Valley Public Library is offering what people in the community need."

Simon credited the staff with helping her to "coast" into the tasks that she must learn to do.

"Everybody's fabulous here. The staff is amazing, the board has been wonderful, Val (Jorgenson) and Deb (Zimmer) at city hall have been great. It's been an easy transition for me. I feel everybody's been so helpful. It's good to have all the support of the staff, the city and the library board," she said. "The library here is full of laughter...I think the 'quiet library' is a thing of the past, because the majority of the people aren't coming in to study here - they're coming in to find resources to take home. This isn't a silent library...this library's alive. That's what I like about it - there are people here, chatting, learning, conversing. I enjoy hearing a mother reading to her children, people meeting up after they haven't seen each other in a while."

The new director is very appreciative of Sikkink's preparations for her arrival on the verge of the children's summer reading program.

"Dianne left things very well organized. She left some big shoes to fill but great directions on how to start filling them," she said. "Because I'm working on the summer reading program, it makes it a lot easier to start calling people in the community to ask if they're willing to present or to provide prizes. We live in a great community. It's been fun contacting people, been a great time for me to jump in. I think this is a good way to start. The first week, I did a lot of reading what she left, made phone calls, and I really get to jump right in at a wonderful time. I'm really very excited."

Simon lives in Spring Valley with her Spring Valley-native husband, John Simon, and their sons Isaac, 11, and Odin, 2. She spends her spare time with her family, exploring and fishing. She likes gardening, fishing, hiking, canoeing, and she loves being outside with her family. They own a canoe, so they like to take day trips. Although they do a lot of fishing, too, she usually ends up putting down her pole to collect rocks.

She loves reading, but after she had kids, her reading transitioned to reading for them. She said she tends to like a lot of nonfiction, such as biographies. She also likes Jodi Picoult's books, as well as "The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns," and she still loves Dr. Seuss."

That reminds her...oh, the places you'll go if you'll just read about "The Easter Bunny's Lost Egg."

The Spring Valley Public Library Board of Trustees will hold an open house for Simon on Monday, June 16, from 4 to 6 p.m. The public is encouraged to stop in and welcome her to the library. The Spring Valley Public Library is open Monday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call 346-2100.