From the April 2015 edition of Cover to Cover
Salina Public Library isn’t limited to its physical address at 301 W. Elm. Lori Berezovsky, Community Engagement Coordinator, frequently takes the work of the library out into Salina.
“Community Engagement means that we work with the public, and engage them, rather than pushing library services at them. It’s getting to know the people I serve personally, rather than see them as customers,” Berezovsky said.
With this directive in mind, Berezovsky spearheads book delivery to the homebound; lobby stops, which let retirement home residents check out books where they live; storytimes and book delivery at child care centers; and maintenance of four Free Little Libraries. You may see her checking out books at community events or catching readers at the Smoky Hill River Festival. She also partners with CAPS, the Salina Emergency Aid-Food Bank and K-State Extension Services for a children’s program that merges food preparation and storytime, called Bitty Bites.
“The benefits of community engagement are two-sided: we increase our patron base by serving community members outside of the library building, and they are able to make use of the library without going to the library building,” Berezovsky said. “Sometimes that means getting traditional services to people via new methods, but it almost always involves empowering people to experience the library in a new and unexpected way for them. Seeing the light bulbs go off when people get it is inspiring!”
A new project for Berezovsky is facilitating community conversations about what Salinans are concerned with and what is on their wish lists. She has also begun work on Circles of the Heartland’s Big View Committee.
“I love that no two days are the same: I’ll work with seniors in the morning, and then shift gears and do storytimes for preschoolers in the afternoon,” Berezovsky said. “I enjoy visiting with everyone I serve and getting to know them. I like being the person they feel comfortable asking about any kind of library questions. Forging those personal connections out in the community is really important to me, and keeps me coming to work every morning!”