Roberts hopes to make library more visible

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Mississippi County Library System Director Lowell Walters announced the hiring of Beth Roberts as the system’s new PR Specialist.

He insists that she will be important to achieving his immediate goal of raising the community’s awareness regarding the county library system.

Roberts said that she and her family have only been in Blytheville since the end of June.

“My family and I just moved here over the summer…my husband (Zach) is the pastor at First United Methodist Church…my children are both attending Delta School and they are both old enough to be in school now, so I am re-entering the workforce.”

She has also been hired as the Literacy Director for Mississippi County.

“With the library…I am trying to revamp their Facebook web presence and website…[and will also be] doing newsletters and advertising for special programming. But we’ve been here, what, a couple weeks now so I’m still trying to get my feet on the ground and…figure out where we are first before running in a different direction.”

She and her husband moved to Blytheville from Hot Springs and have two children, ages 6 and 8. They both attend the Delta School in Wilson.

Beth has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Hendrix’s College and prior to this position has “done a lot of board work” serving on a couple of non-profit board “mainly doing their PR, advertising work and fundraising.”

Her initial impression of Blytheville and the library has been quite good.

“Blytheville has been extraordinarily welcoming. When we came here in June we didn’t have to cook any food for the first two weeks. People brought us meals by all the time. And with my husband being a pastor, we’ve moved around every four or five years and this is the first place that we’ve moved to where our children have instant friends. People came out of the woodwork saying I want you to meet my child or grandchildren and really made sure that we were welcomed and a part of the community,” Beth said.

She also said that people have been very good about making sure that they know where everything is and where they can go to get all of the things that they need.

Regarding the library’s impact upon her family already, she said, “Within the first couple weeks I made sure to bring my kids to the library. When you go to a new place you don’t know all of the things that you can do with the children, you have them home for the summer and you start to go stir crazy so you go to the library…we came and my daughter is six years old and she is starting to read a little bit more so we were excited to be able to come here and not spend money on books that they are only going to read once. And children’s books go in and out of style, and so to be able to come to the library and to be able to look for series that they are interested in right now and to be able to read the next one in line and to not have to buy it ourselves is wonderful.”

“I’ve ben impressed with Beth’s actions already. She has been with us for two weeks,” Walters said. “Beth has been hired…[to do] things like Facebook postings, any type of social media…she is going to be doing the articles that we [do]…Beth will be doing that sort of thing, just a lot more actively…I haven’t had the time to do at it as I should have…so anytime that we have a new type of program or new policy or anything that seems to be newsworthy to be published in a paper.”

Roberts’ hiring is one of the first items on Walters’ to do list, as he begins to work toward revitalizing the system, increasing the public awareness of the system, its services and its programming, as well as addressing the system’s facility concerns.

Walters acknowledges that the library system has some facilities challenges that need to be addressed. “My facilities are pressing me…and I am collecting data on that and I am going to be getting estimates on some of the things,” he said.

Some of the limitations include the need for a new roof on the Blytheville Library, which is expected to cost more than a quarter million dollars. He also said that the Blytheville campus has HVAC issues because the current HVAC unit is the original unit and has become increasingly more difficult to find anyone to service the system due to the hazards surrounding its location in the ceiling. He also added that parts are becoming more difficult to find as well.

Walters added that the Osceola location also has some needs.

“The Osceola building has lots of roof leaks,” he said. “And then there are certain restrictions there, where we’d like to some new programming, but we’ve got to get some things updated, like the kitchen that is there needs updating and things. But I don’t have the figures on that yet…it may not need a new structural roof, but it definitely needs a new membrane or whatever its called for the flat roof. There are too many leaks all over.”

Nevertheless, Walters’ first immediate goal “is to simply make people aware that the system exists.” Some of the things being done to achieve that goal is to meet with members of the community, increasing visibility through more traditional methods like putting the system logo on the system’s vehicle and through strategic social media posting.

The Mississippi County Library System Facebook page may be found at https://www.facebook.com/misscolibrarysystem/.

thenry@blythevillecourier.com