Search is on for small town librarian

Gilman library working to serve town and rural patrons alike

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY Gilman Public Library’s director Beth Cook stands next to one of the many organized bookshelves in the library.

The city of Gilman is looking to fill the library director position at the Gilman Public Library.

Librarian Beth Crow has a strong passion for the job, but retirement beckons.

Crow said she will stay until a suitable replacement is found.

Some desired characteristics in a candidate include a strong support of small libraries, development and implementation of programming for all ages, and the ability to interact with patrons and be involved with the community.

Because libraries in Iowa’s rural communities are more than a place to check out books.

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY The Public Library located at 106 N. Main St. in Gilman.

It may double as the town’s historical society, and serve as the question and answer headquarters when the town’s city clerk is away.

It is a place where parents can take their children when a nasty blizzard or freezing rain disrupts school schedules.

In Gilman, population 499, the public library calls a small, but efficiently remodeled bank building home.

Crow said library archives show the building was purchased for library use in 1979.

Grants were written and fundraisers held to provide money for the remodel.

Previously, the town library was housed in one room in the town’s municipal building.

Crow and her volunteer library board team have put every square foot to use, including the bank’s upstairs vault, now used as a convenient and pleasant reading nook for children.

During Crow’s tenure the library has grown to offer more than 1,000 full-text titles for all ages.

Crow said many youth use the East Marshall Middle School library during the school year, but the town library sees an increase during the summer.

“We consistently average about 250 visitors per month of all ages,” Crow said. “I would like to see more children and teens come in. However, a number of teens use the downloadable book feature. The children especially like picture and beginner books which are so critical to their development.”

Crow is grateful for the volunteer library board’s support, as well as that from the Gilman city council.

She was effusive in her praise of the library board. Members host pasta-dinner fundraisers to supplement the library’s $22,000 annual budget.

“Several board members have been with us a long time,” she said.

The Marshall County Board of Supervisors is also a Gilman Public Library supporter. Last year the supervisors gave $5,213 to Gilman’s library.

Crow said $5,000 was Gilman’s base rate, and $213 was reimbursement meeting numerous circulation requests by rural patrons.

Through the library, people can access computers and check out town news on its Facebook page and website.

Crow said computers have become extremely valuable tools to more efficiently serve patrons.

For example, users can find Gilman’s collections on a laptop.

“I know libraries functioned adequately without them for years,” she said.

Crow has been Gilman’s librarian 3.5 years.

“It is one-person show,” she said smiling.

Prior to that, Crow worked at the Blairstown library for 14 years.


Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com


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