McGregor Library staff not just reading and shushing, much work is necessary

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The McGregor Public Library is located at 334 Main Street. (Photo by Rachel Mergen)

By Rachel Mergen, North Iowa Times

The McGregor Public Library, what library director Michelle Pettit thinks of as a hub for the community, is a place full of constant excitement, as people make their best efforts  to keep quiet.

In the summer, the library staff is happy to host reading programs, welcoming children to find as much delight in books as they do.

Adult groups, like those for writers, also occupy the library every week. The staff is now adding a book club option and other opportunities for the public to further enjoy the library.

Pettit noted that the world of working in libraries isn’t as simple as sitting back, shushing patrons and reading books, even though it may look that way to those who enter the building filled to the brim with literature. Her days include heavy lifting, taking books to the post offices to be sent to local libraries for their patrons, along with dropping them off at the local school to bring their joy to students.

Heavy lifting is not the only task on the list of daily activities for the librarian, though. Her day consists of ordering books and checking piles of lists to make sure everything works smoothly, so patrons can continue to believe the staff’s jobs simply consist of reading. Fundraising must occur every year, along with writing grant requests and taking classes to keep their librarian qualifications.

The library board is in charge of many tasks that help allow the library to continue each month. The board decides on all payments and purchases, while also making big decisions like what type of carpet should be placed in the library—a recent project on which the librarians got to provide an opinion.

The library and her job are peaceful to Pettit. She enjoys being able to help patrons discover the history of the city and their families, leading them to microfilm and other materials stored within the walls. She also finds pleasure in being able to see the mix of tastes in literature, with everyone having their own interests, including the library staff. The staff has such a variety that there is enough of a knowledge base between the three librarians to answer almost any request for recommendations on books.

Pettit’s job is also a light in her life, because she is able to converse with the patrons and get to know those who come in often. She enjoys being able to watch the children that come in develop an early love for reading, one that will last a lifetime.

Pettit mentioned that books are a connecting force across the world, bringing different people with different backgrounds together to enjoy one storyline.

“Reading helps people see and relate to lives different than their own and places they’ve never been,” she noted. “Life would be boring without it.” 

For those who have fallen into the electronic books trend, she recognizes the benefits of them, but said “there is just something about a real book.” But those who do prefer electronic books can borrow them through the library, too.

“The library is important because it makes reading available to everyone,” Pettit said. 

She knows there is something for everyone within the library. Young adult literature is especially a genre that can interest any age, as “some of the very best books” can be found within it. She hopes that no one is afraid to take pride in the genre and enjoy the premises that can only really be found in that type of novel.

The McGregor Public Library is located at 334 Main St. It is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:30 to 8:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Fridays from 2:30 to 5:50 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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