After five and a half years as director of the Starke County Public Library, Ellen Dodge has announced her resignation. Effective Aug. 31, Dodge’s retirement marks the end of a dedicated 17 years of service to the library.
“When I first came I selected fiction materials and helped people make choices for their recreational reading. I’ve been a reference librarian and was head of the reference department for several years,” said Dodge.
Originally born in Chicago, Dodge spent the majority of her life growing up in Laporte County. She later earned her Bachelor’s in Biology and a Master’s in Library Science, and worked in hospital laboratories and research labs before getting a job at the library.
While a lot of things have changed in her 17 years at the library, Dodge said she thinks the library has grown significantly in the technology field. When Dodge first began working at the library, there were only two or three public computers available for use at the library. Now, however, the main library alone offers ten computers for public use, and each branch offers several computers as well. The evolution of the internet has also given the library more opportunities to provide other services to its patrons.
“I think that we can help our patrons a lot by providing the technology that maybe some people can’t afford or don’t want to have in their own home, and the government is becoming more and more that they want everyone to do things online, so we can provide that service for our patrons,” Dodge said.
One big project on the library’s plate is its proposed renovation and expansion. Dodge said that she would like to see this project underway before she leaves. The proposal, which would expand the children’s department to fix issues with a lack of space, would give the library the opportunity to make some other improvements as well. The staff has to work in very crowded conditions because of the tight quarters, and the renovation would allow them to reorganize the layout of the library and solve several spacing issues.
However, working in tight conditions hasn’t soured the staff. Dodge says that the library would be much worse off without her staff, and the great team made everything possible.
“They have just been so willing to jump in and help wherever they can and come up with new ideas, so most everything that we do here is because of the wonderful staff that we have,” said Dodge.
The Library Board has appointed Sheila Urwiler as interim director until a new director has been found. Previously the patron services mananger, Urwiler is well qualified for the position, having received her Master’s in Library Science in 2008.