We reached out to Jennifer Seneca, Assistant Director, Livingston Parish Library to find out what makes their library program so unique and successful.
Q: Do you have a unique program or service that has been successful in your community?
When Ingram originally asked us this question during the summer, we brimmed over with enthusiasm about our all staff library band and escape room events. They are indeed unique and fun programs that our library system offers for free to our patrons. However, since this time our whole framework has been reshaped by the 2016 Louisiana flooding event. Livingston Parish was the most severely affected parish in terms of area; over 86% of the parish experience unprecedented levels of flood waters. With a community devastated and a library system facing an uncertain financial future, we are proud to continue the core of our library services to our patrons: reading and literacy programs for children and adults, free access to the Internet, and easy access to information on the rebuilding and recovery process. We continue to offer our more unique programming, like our upcoming Stranger Things fandom program.
Q: What do you wish your patrons knew that your library offers?
Right now is when we wish we had an unlimited marketing budget. We need to spread the word to more of our parish residents that the library has a wealth of information to aid in the recovery process. Information on cleaning a flooded residence to mold remediation to tutorial books on home building and repair can be found at our libraries. Additionally, when it all becomes too much and our residents need a quick escape, we have books, audio, and movies they can check out for free and just not worry for a little while. Word-of-mouth is the best marketing. Word-of-mouth is the best marketing too as we reach out to the community. As our patrons become more mobile and realize all libraries are open for business, they spread that word to each other.
Q: Where do you see librarianship in 10 years?
I think the role of librarianship in 10 years will be the same as it is for us right now. We see our role as an ever more vocal and visible source for information, recreation, and life learning within the community we serve. While we continue to innovate and offer relevant and needed resources to our communities, changing preconceived thoughts or stereotypes of libraries long past is imperative to our future long-term stability.
Q: What’s your proudest moment as a librarian?
Originally, my answer to this question was that my proudest and happiest moments are watching as new, younger employees find their own joy in working for our system and begin their own paths towards librarianship. That has not changed.
By far now, my single proudest moments have been to watch our staff work together to help each other. Several of our staff had to be rescued from severely flooded residences and brought to safety by first responders. Keeping track of everyone’s positions was tough when cell phone service failed during the midst of this crisis.
Our staff found coworkers at temporary shelters and welcomed them to their own homes as ports in a literal storm. We came together to help affected members gut homes and begin the rebuilding process. We connected staff with help to help with immediate needs. Our goal is to help support our staff as best we can so they can support the community every day through their work at the library. Through the dedication of this staff, we were able to open the Tuesday after the torrential rains changed our community forever. Some of these staff arrived at our locations and worked even though their own residences flooded. I couldn’t be prouder or more humbled by the people I work with as I am now.
Q: Please finish this sentence: A library is… an open place for exploration of learning and education in a positive, fun environment. It is the type of library we have been fortunate to enjoy in our youth and the type of library we hope we are bringing to our communities.
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