The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Librarian takes on outreach position


Brittany Allen

MARKING A MILESTONE: Goldendale Community Librarian Naomi Fisher, left, listens to Nancy Barron, president of the Friends of the Goldendale Library, at a reception Monday for her 'semi-retirement' on the occasion of her 20th anniversary as librarian.

To hear Naomi Fisher talk about her new role with the Fort Vancouver Regional Library (FVRL), of which Goldendale is a part, you might think she was describing librarian heaven. Fisher has been the community librarian for the Goldendale Library for two decades-her anniversary is this month-and now she is stepping into a new role and phase of her career.

Her new role as of Dec. 1 is called Klickitat County Outreach Librarian, which means providing library services outside of the normal branches and stationary locations. "So I will be doing everything from being present at festivals and farmers' markets, marketing library programs, doing talks with senior centers, community councils, visiting schools, and the like," Fisher says. "The goal is signing more people up for library cards, teaching them how to use library resources. One of the things that I do a lot of already, and I hope to continue to do, is teach computer classes and teach people about all the different things we have on the library website so that they can access e-books and audiobooks, so that they can take classes online, so that they can use our really powerful research tools and the information tools we have online, everything from language learning to citizenship study guides, things like that, as well as school resources for research and stuff like that."

The position also gives Fisher more time to pursue personal interests. "What I'm doing," she says, "is semi-retiring to a halftime position. It's just the right time in my life. I'm ready to work halftime and put my energies into my personal life. So I was looking at this new position that was created and said, 'You know, outreach is one of my favorite parts of this job, and I could stay in this job and train somebody else to do it, or I can go halftime and look at doing that job myself and let somebody else take over the Goldendale community librarian position.'" Her choice became clearer with time.

Stepping into her position as fulltime community librarian is Amy King-Schoppert, who is defecting from The Dalles library to Goldendale. "Amy is OK with saying that," Fisher says reassuringly.

The FVRL system has 16 outlets, including two bookmobiles, from the heart of Clark County in Vancouver to the northern edge of Clark County and Woodland, and clear over to the eastern edge of Klickitat County. Fisher points out that Klickitat County is the most challenging to serve in terms of sheer geography. "The Goldendale branch serves the broadest geographic area of any of the Fort Vancouver branches," she says. "We've got a very large geographic area, and as Goldendale community librarian, it's been part of my job to cover that area and 22 distinct service locations for the past 20 years. And it's really too much for one person to do and do adequately. I'd been asking for some extra personnel in Klickitat County for a long time. And about a year and a half ago, the library administration really saw outreach as an important focus for the whole library district and as a part of the future of libraries."

Although the horror stories about the imminent demise of printed materials have clearly been proven wrong, it's no less clear that digital resources are the wave of the future for libraries. "When we're dealing with a public that is getting more and more used to having services come to them through their smartphones and into their hands," Fisher explains, "we need to adjust our service model and not sit in buildings and wait for people to come to us. We need to go out to them."

The Goldendale Library, through its inclusion in FVRL and even in the Multnomah County library system in Oregon, is part of the cutting edge of digital resources. One Goldendale library card gets the user access to two enormous metropolitan library systems. A large number of publications are available to library card holders digitally right now, from Kindle-enabled sources as well as in the e-pub format, which can be accessed on any kind of computer, tablet, or phone. And, Fisher says significantly, just last month digital checkouts for the library district surpassed print checkouts for the first time.

Following this trend, the library is now making it easier to obtain a library card-online. "For years, you had to come and be physically present at a branch to get a library card and show your ID," Fisher says. "And you still have to do that if you want to check out any actual physical materials, like books or DVDs. But you can go on the website and get a digital library card, which enables you to download e-books and audiobooks and use all of our digital services on the website. That's one of the things as outreach librarian that I'll be promoting and marketing out there to the folks who live in Alderdale or Bickleton or Appleton and can't get to the library."

Also as part of the digital wave is the new media lab planned for the Goldendale Library. "This is something that I got underway a while ago," Fisher recalls, "and so we're going to be creating a digital media lab in the basement to help teach people who live in the area how to use modern technologies and also to really provide resources that they don't have access to anywhere else in the community. So that lab will provide space for digitizing old photos and cassettes and VHS and DVDs to digital formats. We'll be able to teach people and have a little sound booth for recording webcasts."

That's right. You'll be able to go to the Goldendale Library and record your own web and podcasts.

Fisher is clearly proud of the progress the library she has served for 20 years has made. "I think the most important thing is to communicate," she says, "is how excited I am that the library district has agreed to invest in the human resources in Klickitat County. Throughout my 20 years here, I've progressively gotten a few extra positions at the Goldendale Library. We have more than we started with, so we have employed more people with good paying job with good benefits in the Goldendale area. White Salmon Library has also gotten a few positions over the last two decades, too. But this is kind of a breakthrough. It's a new thing for the district to invest in a position that is looking out for the whole county and really be able to add more personalized services. I'm really proud that they took this step."


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