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Milner Library expanding services, planning events

Kay S. Pedrotti Today’s library is not the library of yesterday, ‘which most people remember,’ said Denise Groll, newly appointed librarian in Milner. ’Libraries can do so much more than just providing books,’ she said. ‘The library offers computers for patrons, help with anyone’s technological difficulties or problems (such as helping seniors program their cell phones), becomes a community hub for groups or organizations, offers a range of programs and activities ‘“ from art and storytelling to presenting plays and bringing in special speakers.’ She continued, ‘People don’t know they can come in and get help accessing something they need to find on the computer ‘“ like a mechanical schematic for an old tractor, for instance. Hardly anyone thinks of a library as a place to get help with filling out census forms, applications for absentee ballots or other documents which may be problematic for some people, but it is.’ ’Here in Milner, we have done a lot of work to organize books and to get them all cataloged, which is a huge effort and costs money. I have found that people here like to browse the shelves, but we are always available to help them find something in particular. If it isn’t here, chances are good we can order it for you,’ Groll added. The new librarian has had ties to Lamar County since she was a child, she said. The young Denise spent most summers in the area with her grandparents, Paul and Runelle Batchelor. ‘I miss them every day,’ she said. ‘They taught me a lot and were always kind.’ Groll grew up in Vermont, which she describes as ‘a rural state, so I relate to being in a rural county.’ She has several college diplomas, including a bachelor’s degree in history from St, Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., and a master’s in library science from the University of Oklahoma. She said she is ‘one of those adults who went back to school not once, but twice.’ She and her husband Russell have two adult children who are in Vermont, but the couple ‘got tired of the long winters and moved down here ‘“ I love the south and always have.’ The library was a subject of controversy in the early planning years and during its construction, but that has changed, she noted. Anyone who comes in, Groll said, ‘is immediately impressed with what we have and what we offer.’ She gives credit to her ‘wonderful staff’ of two, U’Landa Barkley, former DFCS director, and Walker Davis. Barkley has a wealth of information about the area, Groll said, and Davis is an actor, artist and ‘is really good with children.’ Groll also named Diane Harvey, longtime member of the Barnesville Friends of the Library, as ‘a great help to us.’ ’We are exploring all kinds of funding sources,’ said Groll. As the library is able to make connections with more schools, organizations and people in Lamar County, she added, ‘we will be able to find out what people need and want and take steps to expand our services and programs.’ She said also that she feels the more people know about the library, the more they will be happy to help support it. Groll started work as librarian on Feb. 25 and had to shut down March 23 as a result of the pandemic. ‘We just got started, and then I was usually by myself. I used the downtime familiarizing myself with the collection and assessing needs and strengths. We will reopen in October, with the main event on Oct. 24 being a ‘Book, Bake and Building Materials Sale’ with the festival name of ‘Spooktacular.’ She concluded, ‘We want to add entertainment ‘“ speakers, historians, music, theater productions, revolving exhibits and more. This is truly an exciting job for me.’

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