After Cree Lahti became director of Pocahontas County Free Libraries, the search was on for a new librarian for Linwood Community Library.
Two months ago, that position was filled by Dunmore resident Rebecca Garber, a self-described “book geek.”
Garber discovered her intense love of books when she was in college. While it was too late to change her major to library sciences, Garber took library science classes in hopes they would serve her well one day.
That day came when she heard the Linwood librarian position was open. Garber said she was thrilled to find a way to put her love of books to use in a way that would serve the community.
“I am so thrilled to be here,” she said. “I said, ‘besides being the next Nora Roberts, this is like a dream.’ It might sound so dumb to people or not believable, but it’s really wonderful. I’m surrounded by books all day in this beautiful building.”
Garber, originally from Syracuse, New York, made her way to West Virginia as a student at West Virginia University. She settled in Dunmore with her husband, Scott – a native of Dunmore – and their sons, Wade and Reid.
While it is a big change for her, Garber has come to love being a West Virginian.
“This way of life, I don’t think it’s for everybody, but it is one hundred percent for me,” she said. “I feel like, it’s a simpler way of life, but it’s a happy way of life. What could be better than spending my days in this beautiful building, in the middle of nowhere, beautiful West Virginia, surrounded by books that you can take out for free. It’s fantastic.”
Garber’s passion for reading is obvious the moment you meet her in her new surroundings. She glows with excitement talking about the new books she has added to the shelves at Linwood, as well as the people she has met at her new job.
“It’s different than I thought it would be,” she said. “You think it’s going to be a bunch of little ladies and it’s not. It’s the gentlemen who like to read mysteries, and it’s great. I love it. People like to use this place. This is a huge space for the community. I think it’s pretty cool people like to use it.”
Along with providing reading material, the library is a meeting place for several groups, including book clubs, yoga classes and Linwood Alive!, an organization dedicated to improving the community.
“To me, the more people we can get in here – for whatever – the better,” Garber said. “It doesn’t have to be for reading.”
After she gets settled, Garber hopes to implement new programs and offer classes for the community.
“I’ve never put together groups or classes or anything like that, so it’s kind of going to be a learning thing for me, but I definitely, as time goes by and I get comfortable with the job, I want to introduce more things that I think people will like,” she said. “I know some will be a hit and some won’t, but I’ll be trying different things to see.”
Garber is interested in starting is a creative writing class where individuals can meet to bounce ideas off one another and share their stories.
Back to the books – Garber has immersed herself in the world of literature, fiction and non-fiction, children’s and adult, and everything in between.
She orders books to meet the reading needs and tastes of the community, as well as ordering books she enjoys and can share with her patrons.
“I’ve learned mysteries are a huge thing for people here,” she said. “I’ll read them, but it’s not my favorite thing to read. I went through last time I ordered books and got all the new mysteries, which people have checked out multiple times. Then I kind of put my own personal spin on it, too. If I’m really excited about a book that’s come out – which doesn’t take much sometimes – I order it because I know I’ll read it, and I can tell people about it.”
When ordering children’s books, Garber takes cues from her two sons and looks for books they would enjoy. She also looks for a variety of fiction and non-fiction to intrigue kids of all ages.
Her sons have prepared her for helping parents of reluctant readers, an issue most parents deal with at some point.
Garber said she looks for books to keep her son, Wade, interested in reading. For now, he is into astronomy, so she utilizes the library’s collection and introduces him to a new book every couple of days.
“I feel like there’s a book for everybody,” she said. “Everybody has to have some sort of book they could be interested in, and I just start, like with my own kids, with something small and build from there.”
When Garber gets in a new order of books, she takes pictures of them and posts them on the Linwood Community Library Facebook page to let the community know what is new and exciting at the library. She also posts photos of books that have been donated.
Along with paperback and hardback books, the library also has audio books and DVDs.
Whatever patrons are looking for when they come to the library, Garber wants them to feel welcome and know that the library is there to be a part of the community and their families.
“I want this place to be welcoming,” she said. “I know people come in here a lot for quiet and work, but I always want them to know that I’m here to help them. If somebody comes in looking for a book – there are certain people who like to sit and talk about books – great, I can sit and talk about books all day. I get paid to help people pick out books and talk about books and find new books. It’s pretty cool.”
The library is open Monday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information on the Linwood Community Library, visit its Facebook page, or call 304-572-BOOK (2665).
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org