To you, the Harris Memorial Library might be simply a building full of books. Library director Anne Ohman sees things differently: to her, it’s “a place full of sparks.”
People come to the library, in the Village of Otego, because of the sparks they have inside—a question someone wants answered, a book someone wants to read, a desire for conversation, an urge to attend an event. “The library is a place where those sparks have the possibility of growing and expanding,” Ohman says.
Harris Memorial Library is open just 25 hours a week, but staff and patrons use those hours well. “Every person who walks through the door is greeted warmly, and usually by name,” Ohman says. Of course, patrons come to borrow materials, use the public access computers or attend Preschool Story Time. They also come to use the library’s 3D printer, or to help organize special events, such as “Sip and Paint” fundraisers that combine wine with art.
In 2017, the Community Foundation gave the Harris Memorial Library $5,000 to replace its old, slow and unreliable computers with up-to-date units. That’s made a huge difference for everyone.
Some library patrons don’t have computers at home, Ohman says. Some have only dial-up internet service, or no signal for their smart phones. Some patrons stop by often to check e-mail, watch videos or print tickets to events, among other uses. Others drop in now and then to file their taxes, write papers for school, apply for jobs or perform a host of other activities.
Thanks to the new computers, Ohman can spend more time helping library patrons rather than troubleshooting balky machines. But even more important, Ohman says, those patrons now have computers they can rely on. “People know for sure that they can count on coming into the library with their precious sparks still burning within them and get exactly what they need to fan those sparks into a flame.”