When Vicky Terry first began working at the Pocahontas County Free Libraries, she came as an AmeriCorp Vista at the urging of former library director Allen Johnson. Since her arrival in 2004, Terry has seen a number of changes come to the county’s libraries, as well as the opening of the Green Bank Public Library and, more recently, the opening of the Durbin Community Library last June.
Following her move from Michigan, Terry began working at the PCFL in 2004, and after some friendly “blackmail” from Johnson, was hired as its director in January 2012.
She has since worked diligently to improve the libraries within the county, as well as the state, by serving on the Mountain Library Network’s executive board and providing a voice for small rural libraries, and by working with the West Virginia Library Association to advocate for more secure, steady funding.
“It’s been interesting to work here and oversee all the libraries,” Terry said. “Each library is different, and each community is different. One of my goals when I first came on was to make sure that we were all doing the same thing. Sometimes people get a little lax – or one branch might change something when the others don’t – and I thought it was really important that, no matter where you are in the county, you know what’s what. I wanted things to be standardized throughout the branches.”
Terry has seen a number of changes occur within the local libraries, as well – including an extension to the Hillsboro Public Library.
“It’s a sign that the libraries are still being used and that they’re still relevant,” Terry said. “To that end, I tried to work both here at McClintic and at the other branches. I’ve tried to make our collections really good, really strong, and in my time here, I’ve tried to really beef up our DVD collection.”
With nowhere else to turn to in the county to rent movies, Terry took it upon herself to try and bring that kind of accessibility to the local libraries. Three years ago, she began purchasing movies nominated for Academy Awards and has since seen the libraries’ collections grow exponentially.
The same can be said for the ever-growing and changing collection of books each library houses.
“One way I’ve been able to determine how to purchase materials is to talk to people and see what they’re looking for,” Terry explained. “It’s an on-going process, but it’s a fun one. Talking with people about books – about what they’re reading, what they want to read, and what they’ve heard about – is the most fun part about my job. I love reading. I love books, and I love to hear what other people are reading and why.”
Stepping outside of the familiar shelves of Pocahontas County’s libraries, Terry has helped teach librarians across the state how to catalog their books and materials when the United States Library of Congress changed its standards of cataloging a couple of years ago.
“It doesn’t seem like it would be a big deal,” Terry commented, “but when you’re used to doing something one way and then, all of a sudden, you have to learn how to catalog a new way – it can be very ‘traumatic.’ I was able to help everyone with the changes and train people according to the new standards, which was fun.”
The new standard – known as Resource Description and Access [RDA] – succeeds the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, Second Edition and is an updated version of the ways materials are inputted into a database.
According to Terry, the information is entered in a very specific way, which is called a MARC [Machine Readable Cataloguing] record. Everything – even the spaces and pieces of punctuation – has a purpose, and if just one line is out of place, the books won’t appear in the search.
In addition to training others in the new RDA standard, Terry spent time during her tenure as a Vista making the change from an old software system to a new system.
“It was a big change,” she said. “It meant importing all our records, re-barcoding all our books and issuing new library cards. It was a huge project, and it was very time-consuming.”
However, one of the biggest changes Terry has seen has been the arrival of eBooks – electronic versions of printed books that can be read on computers, iPads, Kindles, Nooks and more. The PCFL belongs to a group where patrons can borrow eBooks to read on the electronic devices, and the membership has allowed the libraries to expand their reach to those who prefer electronic copies over paper.
“I just got our numbers from last year,” Terry added, “and Pocahontas County circulated over thirty-three hundred eBooks to people. We’ve had a real good response to that service, and it’s been an exciting development.”
Terry has faithfully served as the Pocahontas County Free Libraries’ director for five years, but in the wake of an unexpected year, she made the decision that her time as the PCFL’s director come to a close.
“It’s been a tough year for me,” Terry said, “and I think it’s time to focus on – I don’t know. It’s sort of exciting to see what the next thing is going to be, but I really feel that I need some time for myself and my family.”
Despite the trials of the past year, Terry will remember her time here fondly.
“I’ve been so lucky. Not only do I have wonderful people that I work with in the branches, the library board has been a great board to work with all these years. It’s really been a fun experience all the way around, and by and large, it’s been a fun time.
“I’m excited for a new person to come in and have new ideas and new energy – and I always think that’s a good idea. Sometimes change is hard, but I think somebody new coming in is going to be exciting. It’s going to be exciting to see what they’re going to do with the libraries and to see them move forward.”
Cailey Moore may be contacted at email@example.com