Non-Profit of the Year Finalist
By Dirk Webb
Photo by Dale Pickett
Lynn Hobbs, Library Director
Pendleton Community Library
595 E. Water Street Pendleton, IN 46064
(765) 778-7527 x107
The original Pendleton Carnegie Library opened its doors in 1912 on State Street and has been faithfully serving the South Madison community ever since. While the original building in its stately splendor still stands, the Library moved to its current facility at 595 East Water Street in 1991. The building underwent an expansion/renovation project that began in 2005, and opened its doors in 2007.
Under the watchful eye of Library Director, Lynn Hobbs, The Pendleton Library offers its residents a wide variety of fascinating reference material including data archives of Historic Pendleton, Genealogy assistance and digitized preservation of the Markleville, Pendleton and Pendleton Heights High School yearbooks.
In addition, the Library offers Legal Resources, free tax assistance, a mobile food pantry, downloadable books and audio, streaming movies, and online databases that provide information and instruction.
What are the library’s primary programs? “There is something going on just about every day at the library! Storytimes, toddler times, and after-school programs are popular with the kids, as is the summer reading program. Teens enjoy the Wednesday arcade played on a 65” touchscreen computer as well as Minecraft sessions. Adults can take advantage of a wide range of programs covering all subjects including historical programs, panel discussions, music performances, trivia nights, and one-on-one computer assistance. Senior citizens benefit from the twice-weekly Senior Café, where they can enjoy a hot meal and good conversation and receive information about health and wellness. We’re always hoppin’ with one thing or another.”
Where are you originally from? “I am originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. But, I grew up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin in a small town called Rhinelander. “Home of the Hodag”
Why here in Madison County? “I used to work at the downtown library in Indianapolis, and I loved the environment of being downtown and working at the big library in the city. But, there was little variety from day to day, and I got bored. I was on the front lines and had no say in how things were done. I always thought that I had some pretty creative ideas for library initiatives, but I wasn’t in a position to carry them out. I was ready for a change. When I saw the opening for a Director in Pendleton, I gave it a shot. In my interview, I remember the Board showing me a blueprint of the new library construction project, and I was shocked that a little town like Pendleton would be building a 28,000 square foot public library. But, soon I realized that the town’s support for a beautiful new library reflected the values of the local community. And, since that time I’ve become very fond of Madison County and the people who live and work here.”
What are your goals for 2015? “Every five years we develop our strategic plan, and in 2015 we will develop our service and technology plans through 2020. My goal is to involve the community as much as possible in this process so that we can focus our efforts as we head into the future. Providing the best combination of services and programs for our patrons doesn’t happen by accident. Strategic planning is a very involved process, but I actually really enjoy it.”
Why are you in this business? “There are elements of traditional library services that really appeal to me, and that’s what got me started. But, the reason I’ve made a career out of librarianship is because I believe in the transformational power of libraries. We see examples on a daily basis of the difference we make in people’s lives. From instilling a love of reading in children and helping adults apply for jobs, to watching teens make social connections and putting food on the tables of our neighbors in need. We do so much for so many. Lots of people think that libraries are becoming irrelevant, but library leaders simply need to change their mindset and think beyond the traditional services that have pigeonholed libraries for years. The library doesn’t have to be just about books and computers. I believe that the role of the modern public library is to fill gaps in the local community which essentially amounts to helping people. So, in the end…I guess I like to help people, and that’s why I do what I do.”
Who do you consider the most courageous person in history and why? “I can think of lots of courageous people in history, and it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one. But, I keep going back to an image that’s always stuck with me as showing the epitome of courage. It is the famous photograph of one individual standing strong in front of a line of tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests. Part of the reason I’ve always liked that photo is because that person is not famous. He’s still only known as “Tank Man.” I believe that true courage is inherent in somebody. Courageous acts aren’t planned. You just believe, and then you do… without a desire for fame or recognition. The “Tank Man” appeared to be coming back from a simple shopping trip and acted in the moment, risking his life by standing strong to say “Enough!””
If you were to take that person on a tour of your business, what one thing would you want them to see? “Tank Man” was making a stance against an oppressive government. He fought for democracy, and I would want him to see how public libraries are the embodiment of a democratic society. Free access to information, educational programs, and community gardens…all are a perfect example of how democracy can work to benefit every segment of our society.”
What was the defining moment when you knew the library was making a difference? “There was a day when everything seemed to be particularly crazy, and one of my staff stepped into my office to tell me that Butterfingers were free in the vending machine. “You just turn the Butterfinger knob, and a Butterfinger will fall out. You don’t have to pay for it.” I needed a break, and so I just walked around the building and I saw “the public library.” I saw every combination of users you could possibly imagine: a dad reading to his daughter in the over-sized rocking chair, kids playing with blocks in the discovery room, teens playing video games, a high school study group working together at a table, every single computer was in use, there was a line at the front desk, adults were working on their laptops, and a woman had pulled up a chair to browse our new fiction. Then I heard some commotion near the front door. It was coming from a toddler who was throwing a fit, yelling and screaming because he did NOT want to leave the library. It was the reaffirmation I needed at that time and it reminded me why I’m in this profession. I am where I am supposed to be.”
> Winner of the Non-Profit, and other award categories, will be revealed the night of the 2015 Annual Awards Gala