As Fonda Owens grew up in Virginia, she knew that one thing was for certain; her love of books and knowledge set her apart from everyone else in her small town.
“My love of libraries started in the sixth grade, when I got to work in the school library. I started putting books away and I never thought that it was boring. A lot of my classmates thought it was odd that I enjoyed my little job so much,” said Owens.
From high school and into college, Owens followed her passion of library science. While working, she knew that the more experience she had on the job, the more likely she would find the perfect place to call home. She worked for a couple different libraries in Virginia until her family decided to move down to Alabama.
“I worked in libraries for quite a while in Virginia. I was the branch manager and then my family decided to move to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I went to grad school there. I also worked in the children’s department and the technical services department at our local public library. When I graduated, I knew I wasn’t going to stay in Tuscaloosa. I decided to look for a job that I would really like. It took a while, but I finally found the La Porte Public Library and it just sounded like a really great job.”
Ten years ago, Owens started out as an extension services manager which covered all areas of the library including automation and technical services. She has also helped the La Porte Public Library maintain their adult services, youth services, tech department, mobile library and human resource (HR) offices. One year prior to being hired as the permanent director in October 2011, Owens served on the administrative team as the interim director.
The community benefits from the La Porte Public Library in a variety of ways. For instance, the library offers a mobile library provided by Overdrive as well as a doorstep delivery program for its patrons. Some individuals take part in book clubs or book discussion groups such as the “Page Turners” to hone their comprehensive skills in a healthy environment. There are also summer reading programs which encourage children to read after school ends and before it starts up again.
“Books are still used more than you might get the impression. Electronic formats are becoming popular, but people still do use us for printed material. It’s convenient and there is something special about children seeing words in books while someone reads to them.”
The La Porte Public Library is used differently by everyone. Some use books for personal enjoyment while others look for ways to fix something. Most students use the library for studying and researching purposes. Cookbooks and craft books are also provided as well.
“A strategic plan we are conducting is called ‘Community Conversation.’ This is a questionnaire to find out just what our patrons come to the library for.”
Fonda Owens has made sure the community is well taken care of in multiple ways when it comes to the local library. She provides books, CDs, audio books, computers, a mobile library, services dedicated to the community and programs for children and adults. The citizens of La Porte County are lucky to have such a driven librarian in their midst.