The new library branch manager at the Bryan Memorial Library in Newton Grove has been a face familiar to patrons over the last few years.
“She has been with the library for several years, and she has served at all three branches,” said Heather Bonney, the Sampson County Public Library director in a telephone interview early last week, about Jean Simmons who took the helm of the town’s library after Lark Thornton retired.
“I knew Lark Thornton was leaving for a long time,” said Bonney. “Lark trained (Simmons).”
“Each library runs a little different and she is an excellent employee,” detailed Bonney. “She has been easing into the position.” Simmons started working at the Newton Grove location on a regular basis back in December.
“I came in November of 2010 to this system,” said Simmons in an interview on Friday.
“I mainly worked in Garland and Clinton,” she pointed out. “I started as a part-time employee and moved to full time.”
Simmons lives about nine to 10 miles from the Bryan Memorial Library, and she said she has always had a fondness for it.
Simmons had worked in the library in high school, and also worked in medical transcription. She also worked for 12 years as a home school administrator for her son.
“I’ve been married for 28 years this July, and I lived in Erwin for 23 years,” said Simmons. “I used to come to this library with my son.” Her son was a voracious reader, and she had to bring him to the Sampson County library after he had read all the books that were in their collection.
“I brought my son here,” she attested. “That’s how I met Lark.”
“I never dreamed in the 90s and early 2000s when I came here that I would be the branch manager one day,” she reflected.
The only thing different from before, Simmons stressed, is that she’s now charged with doing more administrative work,.
“I am really into customer service and being diplomatic in dealing with the public,” she said. “I want to do things within reason and in policy.”
Since taking the helm, Simmons’ focus has been on patrons. “You know, learning what they like to read and pick their brains and get into their minds and make that connection.
“I have been trying to find that little niche to make that connection with patrons,” she explained.
“There is nothing really different other than being more 21st century, a more forward focus,” she said.
Libraries, Simmons stressed, are information hubs. “It’s a lot more than just pulling books. We help with reference questions,” she added. “We are like walking information stations.”
At the library, Simmons’ goal is to keep on the cutting edge yet provide that quaint appeal that the rural library has always had.
“This library was Lark’s heart and I want to build on the legacy she has left,” Simmons divulged.
“I am looking forward to the summer reading program,” she added mentioning that registration is starting next week and will run through June 20. The programs is for children age 5-12 and runs through June 23 to July 26.
Monday is held at Roseboro Town Hall. Tuesday is at Newton Grove. Wednesday is in Garland and Thursday is in Clinton. All programs are at 3 p.m.
The theme for this year is “Fizz, Boom, Read” which will be science based. For more information contact the branch in your area.
Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122. Follow us on Twitter: @SampsonInd