ASHLAND—The Boyd County Public Library got a new director Thursday—a veteran staffer who has devoted much of his life to the institution.
James C. Powers, acting director since Jan. 1, was the unanimous choice of the library’s board of trustees, said President Herb Charles.
Charles said a search committee appointed by trustees advertised in trade journals, reviewed resumes and turned in a single recommendation as he had asked.
“And it turned out Jim had the best qualifications,” he said.
He said Powers was “well-loved not only by library personnel but by the community . . . a fine individual.”
Powers, who holds bachelor’s degrees in English and history from Marshall University and a master’s in library science from the University of Kentucky, succeeds Lawrence Frank, who moved to Port Huron, Michigan, in December after nearly 10 years here.
Powers, 57, of Ashland, worked at the library during his undergraduate days at Marshall. He returned full time in 1974. Most recently he’s been resident historian. Powers recalled that when he was a second-grader at Crabbe Elementary, next door to the library, “my mother had to come over there and get me out of the children’s room because I stopped there on my way home.”
He said he’s never lost that boyhood affection for books.
“My first remembrance of reading was Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I plowed through all those, then got into the boyhood biographies of famous people.” He said he’s never considered himself a bookworm, just a person fascinated by books.
“I’m constantly going through bookstores, taking a book off the shelf to start on, and that can be bad for a librarian—it gets in the way of my work.”
He said his goal as new director is “just to give the sincerest level of service to anyone who walks through the front door, and we can do that only with a dedicated staff—and I feel we have one now.”
Beyond that, he said the Boyd County Library is bringing computer technology into use as fast as it can pay for it. He said the Summit branch library should be computerized by the end of next year, and the Catlettsburg branch will follow.
“Doing this makes the entire collection of all three library buildings accessible through the whole system,” he said. “Down the road, we’ll be online with other libraries so we can share knowledge everyone else has.”
“The bottom line is that whether it’s for education or recreation, we’ll get the information to individuals as fast as we can in a form usable to them.”
Powers is overseeing the online conversation of the two branches. He said he considered his selection a vote of confidence in continuing that effort.
“We get lots of use at both branches, despite the low amount of books there, but we’ve been sending new books to each and have assigned extra staff one day a week to improve the looks of the building at Summit.”
Powers said his dream—like that of any director—is for a new building for the main library.
“But that will have to come at a time when our present building becomes totally inadequate for our needs,” he said. “We have been able to automate our main building without difficulty, which shows it’s still adequate and going to be here for a while.”
“But if the opportunity arises, we will move faster. I have no time frame in mind, but I have great confidence in this area and feel that the construction and new business coming in right now will bring in the property tax we need.”
The library is currently supported by a 5.6 cent-per $100 property tax, by state grants and donations from individuals and the Friends of Boyd County Public Library.