Smith: Years at library 'great experience'

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series celebrating the St. Marys Public Library’s 100 years of service to area residents. Diana Smith could probably write a book about her experience working at the St. Marys Public Library since 1969—and chances are, she’d know exactly where to find it on the shelves, too. Now working exclusively with interlibrary loans, Smith has also manned the reference desk and assisted clients with finding books or answers, as well as working in the office. A chance interaction led to her longtime association with the library. “I was looking for a little job and Vesta Fritz stopped at my house one day,” Smith said. “She had been working here, and she said that there was an opening in the afternoon. I worked four days a week, three hours a day, and my kids were all small, and it worked out good because I’d be home in time when they got out of school, and if I was still working, they would stop here.” Now her children are all grown up, and the library has seen many changes as well. Smith said the bulk of the changes are for the better and offer patrons better service and access to a larger number of items. Although some patrons may miss the card catalog, the installation of computers has made searching for a particular title much easier, she said. Other changes have benefitted the area’s youngest citizens. “They opened up the children’s room downstairs, and that was a big move. And they have so many programs for the kids now,” Smith said. “And we also have Access [Pennsylvania], which anybody can go to any library in Pennsylvania, if they have an Access sticker, and borrow books. They don’t have to live in that particular town or city.”Over the years, the library also added a local history room, which has books written about the area, Census information, copies of The Daily Press on microfilm and yearbooks from area schools to help people research their genealogy. The building is also handicap-accessible so that everyone can enjoy the library's offerings. Computers and internet access are also a significant asset to library patrons. The computers allow people to research information and check email or apply for jobs, a big benefit to a small community where not everyone has access to a computer, even in these modern times. Smith said she is a patron of the library as well as an employee.“I read all the time. I’m a big reader,” Smith said. She said community residents may be missing a gem that’s been right under their nose all this time, and invited them to come in and experience it for themselves. “I think anyone who doesn’t use the library is missing out because there’s so much to offer here,” she said. “If there are books that we don’t have, we can get on interlibrary loan. We can borrow books from anywhere in the United States.“We get books from California, Colorado, all different areas. We now have e-books.”