BLACKFOOTâ€”To say that Lisa Harral "knows the library" is an understatement. Harral started working at the Blackfoot Public Library in 1980 while she was just in high school; now, over 30 years later, Harral has been named Library Director - an opportunity that she welcomes wholeheartedly.
"When I first started, it was mostly helping high school debaters find reference materials; that was a big thing back then," Harral said of the entry level position offered to her so many years ago. "Sometimes I worked in what we called the 'children's dungeon' - a small cement 'cubby hole' in the old library, where the library parking lot is now."
"I fell in love with the library and the people and it's here that I stayed. Just as you can't take the 'country out of the cowgirl,' you can't take the 'library out of ME,' " she joked.
In the 33 years that have gone by, Harral has worked in every position possible at the library including - page, aide, children's librarian, evening supervisor, inter-library loan clerk, senior staff member and even janitor. She has been through four library directors and has held the position of 'interim director' more than once over the years.
Harral said that she expressed interest in being the library director even though she lacked the education [Master's Degree in Library Science] normally required for job. However, when the position came open this spring, the Blackfoot Library 'Board of Directors' took into consideration her many years of library experience, naming her as the 'library' director in May.
Librarian Brenda Wilcox, said, "Lisa [Harral] is the 'go-to' person at the library. She has always had an eye to the future and how the library can best serve the present and future needs of the community. She has ideas and excellent organizational skills to make things happen. She has already implemented numerous progressive projects to make libraries a better place in many areas."
Harral said the core of her job is to "keep the library growing and functioning."
"My motto for the library is 'change,' " she said. "Libraries are finding their place in the 'ever-changing' world. People used to have to come to the library to find answers, but now, thanks to a great tool called 'the Internet' the answers come straight into our own home. However, not everyone has their own computer or can subscribe to an internet provider."
She went on, "The library serves as an equalizer to fill that gap. We offer computers for patrons to use as well as many other things...summer reading programs, DVDs books on CDs, discussion groups, adult classes, there is always something happening at the library. Do I think that public libraries will ever become extinct? Absolutely not!"
Harral said she also has a plan to take the library to patrons who can't get out with "mobile library services."
"It has been fun seeing generations of library patrons coming through the hoops. I see kids coming in that are the 'spitting images' of their mothers who I have helped for many years," she said.
Harral embraces every aspect of the library and says that it is her "sincere desire to make the 'tax-supported' public library a meaningful, helpful and pleasant experience...a library that Blackfoot patrons can call their own."
"I love books and I love people. I truly have a dream job," she concluded.
Harral invites patrons to share any ideas or suggestions for the library by stopping in at the Blackfoot Public Library (129 N. Broadway) or by emailing her at email@example.com.
For information on the library go to: www.blackfootlibrary.org or call 785-8628.