LEWISTOWN - During the past 19 years as director of the Mifflin County Library, Carol Veitch has seen the library evolve from print books and card catalogs to e-books and electronic databases.
Under her direction, the Allensville and Kish branches of the library moved into new facilities, Friends of Mifflin County Library was established to raise extra funds and the library was renovated to become compliant with the American Disabilities Act.
Now, as Veitch prepares for retirement, she remains confident that the Mifflin County Library is under good leadership and will remain a valuable and relevant resource in the community.
Sentinel photo by JULIANNE CAHILL
Carol Veitch, director of the Mifflin County Library, is retiring from her position at the end of December. Veitch has served at the library for more than 19 years.
"I'd probably go so far as 'excellent,' but I'm prejudiced," she said with a smile.
As she looked back on her years in the library, Veitch traced her interest in reading to her grandfather, who read to her as a child. Her elementary school teachers and school librarian, Winifred Hamilton, also introduced her to a wide range of good books, she said.
In high school, Veitch started working in her local public library. After that, she secured a position at the Clarion University Library, where she worked during most of her college years.
In 1993, Veitch came to the Mifflin County Library and has served there ever since.
"It's been a very interesting experience over the years," she said.
Though Veitch said she would not consider the library to be a leader in technology, she said the transition from print sources to online reference materials was a significant change during her time as director. The library and its four branches now have access to a number of online databases which provide books, newspapers and articles from a variety of sources. She said the databases are available 24/7 online to anyone who has a library card.
Cardholders can also download e-books directly to their Kindles, Nooks and other e-readers. Veitch said recent budget cuts prevent the library from purchasing as many copies of individuals books, so e-books allow patrons to download a copy directly to their device. About 300 books are downloaded each month, she said.
In addition to more online resources, Veitch said the library added free wireless computer access to all of its branches. The Internet connection can be accessed using personal computers or cardholders can use the public access computers available at each branch.
Veitch explained that the library's resources, especially wireless Internet access, are important in communities like Mifflin County because of the economic effect of high unemployment rates and lowpaying jobs. When money gets tight, she said the first thing individuals and families leave is the Internet.
Some of Veitch's favorite memories over the years are of community members who return to the library to tell her they secured a job after using the computers to prepare their resume or perform a job search.
"That's always a nice thing ... people who say, 'I don't know what I would do without (the library)," she said.
For other patrons, the library is their social life, she said.
"Reading is their enjoyment," Veitch explained. "As they put it, 'There's nothing on TV worth watching.'"
Adults aren't the only patrons who enjoy the library, she added. Another of her favorite memories is that of a mother and her young daughter who visited the library about four or five years ago. Veitch said it was the daughter's fifth birthday, and she was old enough to get her own library card.
"It's the only thing she wanted," she recalled. "It can be a very life-changing thing for (children)."
Veitch said children's program at the Mifflin County Library is one of the best in the state, under the direction of Susan Miriello, youth services librarian.
Providing both necessary and recreational services to the area, along with getting to know members of the community are the things Veitch said she will miss the most in her retirement.
"I'll miss a lot of that ... especially the faithful ones who come in all the time," she said, adding that she will miss the challenges of running the library too.
As Veitch wraps up her last month as library director, she said she already has plans for her future. The years ahead include working part-time as the consultant librarian for the Lewistown Hospital School of Nursing, volunteering with Friends of the Mifflin County Library, Area Agency on Aging and Communities That Care, as well as teaching the Builders Class at McVeytown Presbyterian Church.
"It's time for someone to bring some new ideas," to the Mifflin County Library, Veitch said.
She offered a few words of advice for her successor.
"Don't be afraid to bring new things. New ideas, new technologies," she urged.
For more information about the Mifflin County Library and services offered, call the library at 242-2391 or visit www.mifflincountylibrary.org.