by CHARLES ROMANS
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
Kayla Morris is the Associate Branch Manager for the Gallaher Village Public Library in Huntington where she has been an employee for the last 10 years. Morris said she loves her job, but it isn’t what most people think of when they think of librarians or libraries. The old image of the “fussy” librarian who goes around saying “shush” to library patrons is something Morris finds extremely funny, as well as extremely inaccurate.
“One of the things I love is we wear a lot of hats at the library,” Morris said. “We do a lot of literacy programs for both children and adults. And because we are connected to the main library, there is access to this huge referral network.”
Morris said the library provides various necessary programs like tax preparation help, job placement and information on how to apply for Food Stamps. “We’ve kind of adapted the way most nonprofits have had to,” Morris said. “And we provide what the community needs.”
The community currently needs access to social programs, education training in areas such as computer literacy, and even office type support including copies and fax service, Morris added. There are also services which Morris and others who work at the library find both enjoyable and rewarding.
“We even help kids make cards for their parents,” she said. “There is so much more that a library offers to its community beyond just literature. But the literature itself is extremely important, because many people simply can’t afford to purchase all of the books they would want or need to read.”
One unfortunate reality Morris pointed out, however, is that smaller and rural libraries often operate on limited resources. Due to factors such as those limited resources, many libraries have difficulty attracting librarians who have completed their master’s degree in Library Science and possess the focused training that goes along with such a specialized degree. Morris herself is a graduate of Boyd County High School and Marshall University, earning a bachelor’s degree and then 10 years of experience working in the library system, but does not have the Library Science Degree.
“That’s one reason why this new training program is so important,” Morris said. “It gives small and rural libraries access to training and skills that they miss out on by not being financially able to attract people with the Library Science degree.”
The training program is offered by The Association for Rural and Small Libraries, Morris said.
“It’s an 18-month program that starts in June. They will send out our instructional materials, and it is based on a program call Nexus, Leading Across Boundaries. That is a Leadership in Libraries Program, and they are offering it to us free of charge to promote Leadership and Library training in general, for Librarians who don’t have access to the degree,” Morris said.
Though the program does not confer a master’s degree, it does provide those who complete it a wide array of skills they would not normally have had.
“For me, it will be a huge help learning the skill associated with both managing a library and all of our community building programs,” Morris said.
It will also help bridge the gap in education and training she missed by not earning the degree before taking the position at the library – all while allowing her to remain at a job she loves serving the community, she said.
“And it will give me all the tools I need to run this library as efficiently as if I had that degree. And it gives our community the resources that are available to a much larger community. I am excited and look forward to seeing what it can do for us.”