Gina Gail Milburn, the new director of the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library, offered background on herself and her view of libraries at a recent meeting of the Monett Kiwanis Club.
A Missouri native, Milburn began her library career shelving books in high school. She went to the University of Missouri's Conservatory of Music and earned a master's degree in music. She liked a job she had in a library and decided to complete a degree in library science at the University of Missouri.
Milburn spent 18 years working at the public library in Memphis, Tenn. She began working at the Barry-Lawrence system in August, succeeding retiring director Jean Berg.
Milburn said cited her job is satisfyinf because it allows her to match what people want with what they need and to work in a quiet environment.
Memphis had a high poverty rate, and libraries became a fun free place to go. Librarians develop exceptional skills in categorizing information, finding out what people want to learn and determining what is true or untrue.
Despite talk over the last 50 years that libraries will die, Milburn said there will always be a need for them.
According to Milburn, the key to a library's future is to remain fluid and flexible and to manage information. Changing technology, like the shift of movies from Beta to DVD and streaming, require forward thinking to keep up with demand.
Uses for the library have changed. People now come to use the Internet and even apply for jobs. Milburn said 44 percent of bi-county residents use the Internet, which has opened new opportunities for research. To aid them, the Barry-Lawrence system offers free access to Ancestry.com for genealogists. More technical and training classes using the Internet are available through the library than ever before.
The Barry-Lawrence Regional Library has 10 buildings and 45 employees. On an average, Milburn said the branches combined draw an average of 1,000 to 1,500 people a day in the 10 communities served.
"The library is the only public building that serves all people and all ages," Milburn said. "You can't put a dollar value on helping someone find what they need. I encourage everyone to come find it at the library."
Milburn was introduced by program chairman Frank Washburn. President Eric Kean presided at the meeting.
The Monett Kiwanis Club usually meets at noon on Tuesdays for a meeting and a program. Happy House restaurant is where the meetings are typically held.