By: Ann Meiggs, President-Elect of the Board
For: Red Rock News
Date: April 10, 2009
New Library Director—Virginia Volkman—Not New to Sedona
Our new library director, Ginny Volkman—she likes to be called “Ginny”—comes to us from Richboro, Pennsylvania. While this is a fact, it leaves out a small detail about the one-employee, 60-volunteer operation she once managed on Jordan Road in Sedona. Yes, Ginny was Director of Sedona Public Library from 1979 to 1985.
In 1985, Ginny and her family left Sedona so her husband, Nicolas, could pursue Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She became the director of the Free Library of Northampton Township in Richboro. Under her leadership, the circulation grew to 300,000 in 2008 and the collection has grown in size and diversity. The Richboro facility recently underwent a two-year building expansion, tripling its size, from 10,000 to more than 30,000 square feet. Ginny was an integral part of the planning and execution of this successful $5 million project. During her tenure, the library received grants for equipment and programs to expand outreach to children, teens, and seniors. Staying up with new library technology was always on Ginny’s agenda, as well as being a tireless promoter of the library in the community.
Volunteers who worked with her on Jordan Road remember Ginny fondly. Several still give their time and energy to our great library. Val Hirsch (now celebrating her 92nd birthday) stopped by the library when Ginny was interviewing last month just to give her a hug. In 1981, Val’s husband constructed a large 2' by 3' Valentine dedicated to the 60 or so volunteers. The huge Valentine was thought to have gone missing years ago, but was located and became the focus for reminiscing about those good old days.
The library that Ginny is leaving behind in Pennsylvania and our library in Sedona are alike in many ways and probably appear to users to be identical in their function. However, some significant differences should be noted, especially by those of us who enjoy the benefits of our Sedona Public Library.
While Ginny’s former employer was, in fact, a “public” facility, operated and funded by a governmental entity, our library is a private non-profit corporation providing a public service. Within a decade of Ginny’s departure from Jordan Road in 1985, the Sedona community had moved its library to the White Bear Road address. The entire process and project was accomplished by community action, not governmental action. The funds to purchase the property on White Bear Road came as a donation. The design and construction were funded on a “pay as you go” basis with community fundraisers, cost sharing, free labor, and outright gifts supporting the progress. Even the books were moved from Jordan Road by the hands of the community, literally.
Ginny is skilled in working with volunteers and the Sedona Library relies on volunteers to a much greater extent than most of us realize. Our 100+ volunteers and the Friends of the Library are vital keys to the day-to-day operation and funding of both the Main Library on White Bear Road in West Sedona and Sedona Public Library (SPL) in the Village on West Cortez Drive.
While our private “public” library is supported financially by the City of Sedona and by Coconino and Yavapai Counties in consideration for the “public” service being provided, it is the community—individuals, volunteers, and the Friends of the Library—that keeps the financial engine running with fundraisers, book sales, gifts, bequests, program participation, and cash donations.
Another difference at our library is that Ginny and our small, but dedicated staff are not governmental employees. They are employees in the private sector. Technically, they are employed by Sedona Public Library, Inc. as represented by the Board of Trustees. In contrast to most public libraries, which have an advisory board, our Library has a “governing board” whose members are recruited from, and are responsible to, the Sedona community at large.
The private/public nature of our Sedona Public Library forms the rich fabric from which our community is provided outstanding library services that are growing and evolving with our culture and technology. Today, with public, private, and volunteer support, our Main Library is open 7 days a week and SPL in the Village 20 hours per week. Services include free wireless internet and computer access for patrons; meeting areas for public use; programming for children, teens, and adults; outreach to our Spanish-speaking population; a robust website to select and reserve books, access free databases and learn about upcoming events and other Library news; and access to the more than 1.4 million items in the Yavapai County Library Network.
Welcome back, Ginny! We are looking forward to working with you.
Ann Meiggs, author of this week's article,
is President-Elect of the Board of Trustees of the Sedona Public Library.
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News
and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.