While pursuing a library master’s in Pennsylvania followed by working in libraries California as her husband was taking classes for his master’s, Rachel Nash was homesick for Alaska.
But now her dream of working close to her hometown of Sterling has come true.
Nash began her job as the librarian at the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Library in Soldotna Aug. 12.
She grew up loving to read. Her parents, John and Katherine Beatty, read to her everyday. Two of her favorite series from childhood were the “Berenstain Bears” and the “Black Stallion.”
“I probably drove the school librarian insane saying, ‘But you don’t have the fifth (“Black Stallion” book), I have to read the fifth one.’ I really had to read everything in order and couldn’t miss one,” Nash said.
Her passion for reading continued into high school when she worked as a page at the school library. After graduating from Skyview, Nash got a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
In 2007, she was working as a page at the Soldotna Library when Margaret Hawkinson, former library director, encouraged her to pursue library science.
“She was a great mentor for me,” Nash said.
Nash graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a master’s in information and library science in 2010.
She and her husband, Nathan, then moved across the country to California so he could pursue his master’s in fine arts.
While in California, Nash worked at the South San Francisco Public Library for three years where she started a teen program called “Teens @ the Library.” For one hour each week teens played Nintendo Wii games and made crafts. She also put on themed parties for the teen program including: zombie, campfire, ice cream and vampire and werewolf. When the “Hunger Games” movie was released, she planned a party that was attended by more than 50 teens.
Nash hopes to create a similar program at the new library starting as early as the opening week, which is scheduled for early October, she said.
“I really want (teens) to know it’s their library also,” she said.
Nash wants to add story times for more ages to the library schedule. She said having one story time for all ages is difficult because toddlers aren’t interested in the same books at elementary age kids.
“Bouncing Babies,” a program encouraging brain development that has gained popularity in the Lower 48, is another program Nash wants to implement. She said that babies that are read to do better throughout their school careers. Along with reading, the program would include singing songs, doing and motions to boost development.
The program would be geared for babies 3 to 18 months old.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Nash said. … “It also gives new parents a place to come and talk about being a new parent.”
Nash is also looking to expand adult programs at the library, and is seeking community input for what types of programs residents would like to see.
She said opening the new library in a time of technological change is exciting and wants to do e-book training was well as other technology workshops for adults.
The new library will feature a fireplace, wireless Internet, community and conference rooms as well as tutoring rooms. She said it is the residents’ library and she encourages everybody to come for both learning and fun.
“I really see this new library, libraries in general, as the heart of a community,” Nash said.
She said the library will house more than 60,000 volumes and staff is still seeking book suggestions. Nash wants to especially build up the children and young adult nonfiction sections to support the schools’ curriculums. She also wants to see a larger graphic novel section for children and teens. Book suggestions can be made at the library’s temporary location at the Peninsula Center Mall or posted on the Soldotna Library Facebook page.
“I’m excited to work together with (staff) and community to continue making this library a great library,” Nash said.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.