After volunteering for the summer at the Durbin Community Library, Dunmore resident Jessica Walton knew she wanted to return for a full-time position after she graduated from Davis & Elkins College.
In December, with her Bachelor’s degree in history complete, Walton did just that.
“I was undecided for a very long time, and I just kind of picked up history because I love history,” she said of her degree. “Then, of course, whenever you go for a degree, you wonder what you can do with it, so I figured out I could do archiving. I would work with museums or something.”
While in college, Walton had to do a work study and settled on a job in the library, thinking she could hone her skills in archiving.
“I fell in love with it,” she said.
As an avid reader herself, Walton enjoys helping patrons find books and introduce them to new authors or genres available at the library.
“I think it’s definitely along the fantasy and the fiction line,” she said, of what is most popular. “People love the West Virginia section, as well. We have a lot of West Virginia history fans that come in here, which is great. The non-fiction is not as popular as the fiction, but there are some areas in there, like the religious section and the philosophy section that are actually very popular.”
The children’s section is also very popular and has a wide range of books for all ages.
If there is a book that a patron wants that is not available, Walton said she is happy to check with other libraries in the county, as well as with the state, to see if they can be loaned to the Durbin facility.
“I think a lot of people get discouraged if they don’t find the specific book or author that they want. Pocahontas County Free Libraries and, of course, all of West Virginia, is in the inter-library loan system, so we can get books mailed to us.
“We do it with movies, as well,” she added. “It’s great.”
In addition to getting books on loan from other libraries, Walton said the library tries to order new books on a regular basis to stock the latest bestsellers.
When books get a little older, they are taken off the shelves and go into the book sale collection. At the main entrance of the library, there are always books available for sale and Walton said an annual book sale is held each summer.
The library is so much more than a place to borrow books, however.
It is a community and visitor’s center, an activity studio and a home to a small history collection.
“We have WiFi – that’s one of the biggest resources for our community, but then we also try to have crafts and fun stuff for the community,” Walton said. “I’m trying to find my footing in that area to see what people want to happen here at the library and what people will come to participate in. We do have a kid crowd that comes in. They like the crafts. They like story time. That’s always very nice.”
Walton said she hopes to add some programming for the older crowd and has ideas for painting courses and cake bingo, just to name a couple.
“We’re definitely planning on trying to get the community more involved with the library, even if it’s not with books,” she said. “Of course, we want people to be familiar with the books we have and the best sellers that we’re getting in, but we want people to know that we’re more than a library. We are here for the community and want to have more of a community feel.”
The library has a large multi-purpose room with a kitchen that is available to rent for parties and is the main site for the activities hosted by the library.
As visitors enter the library, they will notice two large glass cases filled with historical artifacts and photos. They belong to the Upper Pocahontas Community Cooperative and were collected by member Jason Baseman.
“They wanted to make a little museum – I think they’re in the process of trying to figure that out – so they just put all of this here, so it’s at least on display somewhere,” Walton said. “People love it. When they come in, it’s the first thing they see.”
Among the collection are several yearbooks from the Durbin School, which Walton said visitors are allowed to flip through, as long as they are careful.
Other services at the library include four public computers and a printer, and a movie collection people can borrow from in the same manner as library books. They can also use the library’s fax machine for a small fee.
Although Walton wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she went to college, she is happy to have found her place as a librarian. So much so that she is studying to get her Master’s degree in library science.
“I love it here,” she said of the library. “I love the people. I love that it’s more than a library. You have so many other resources. We have the books. We have the WiFi. We have the community room. We have movies.”
Durbin Community Library is open Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.