“We have to remember what is important and stay true to our mission to provide free access to information and books. We also need to be a place that inspires a love of reading and stirs curiosity.” Those are the words of Sarah Nichols, the new director for the Carnegie Public Library in Washington C.H.
Nichols joined the staff at Carnegie Library in 2009 as head of adult services. She grew up in rural Ross County and her parents owned a grocery store in New Holland for many years. She and her husband are raising their two children in Fayette County. Nichols started out interested in art therapy, but after being introduced to library science, she went on to earn her masters in library and information science at Kent State.
Nichols shares, “There is something about the ebb and flow of a library, the hectic and yet regulated flow of the day.” If you watch Sarah’s face as she talks about the Carnegie Library, then you get her passion for the library, the staff, the consumers, the programs offered and her new position.
It is also a library in transition. Carnegie Library was established in 1903 through application to the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. A long questionnaire was filled out and the City of Washington pledged to support the new library by laying aside monies to pay the staff and to ensure the library did not stray from its purpose.
In May 2015, Poppy Girton, who had been the director since 2009, died after a valiant battle with cancer. Girton was associated with the Carnegie Library first as a board member, then hired in 1997 as head of adult services and was then elevated to director.
According to Nichols, “Poppy Girton had a long history with this library and left a rich legacy. I am honored to continue that. We are a library in transition. We are still healing from Poppy’s death as individuals and as a system. The kind words and deeds from so many people in our community have helped to ease our pain. While there is fluctuation and change happening we are still a strong organization. The board and I are assessing and re-affirming our mission and our goals to ensure that we remain strong into the future.”
Carnegie Public Library, in Washington Court House and Jeffersonville, offers a variety of services to the public. In June of this year, almost 15,000 items were circulated. And Nichols is quick to share that the two buildings have far more books being read than there are internet users. Much of what the staff does is outreach. There is the annual community AAUW book sale scheduled for August. AARP tax aides are in the buildings from February to April to offer free tax preparation. There are visits from Social Security to help community members navigate insurance options. There are adult book clubs available to the public. Local and national authors are scheduled for signings and readings. There is the E-book Drop In where you can learn how to get the most use from your e-book. Also, the library has a large section relating to local history and family genealogy. Nichols boasts that the Carnegie Public Library is “a living, breathing place to access not only your own history but the history of this county.”
There is also a fax, copy and scanning service available for a small fee. The use of the internet is free just as borrowing the books are free.
According to Nichols, “I cannot say enough about our great staff, our board, our supportive patrons and our community; all of these entities work together to create a warm and welcoming public library. I see my tenure as director as keeping that theme alive.”
For further information on any of the programs or services available at the Carnegie Public Library, you may call the Washington Court House branch at 740- 335-2540 or the Jeffersonville branch at 740-426-9292. The Carnegie Library in Jeffersonville is open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The Washington Court House location is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Ohio Digital Library is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call or stop in to find out how this program works.