For those of you not familiar with Ephrata, PA, it is a simple, Pennsylvania Dutch community with progressive leadership and pride I've seen nowhere else. Dick Winters grew up here. We have been the hometown of both a Mr. America AND a Miss America. We have the largest street fair in Pennsylvania. We have our own electric company. We have our own community theatre, a state-of-the-art public pool, which is more like a water park. Our county is one of the top 10 tourist destinations in the United States. And we have my library...once housed in a mansion in town and now, sitting atop a hill and circulating more items than any library facility in the county. We are a small town with big town amenities. In this position, there are expectations that the local library director (me) be more than just a "head librarian." My job has grown significantly in the last decade. While I haven't been the director that long, I have been there, watching.
While trying to maintain my position at the library, I've also become a member of the board of the Chamber of Commerce, a member of the town's Vision Committee, a member of the town's Comprehensive Planning Committee and an ambassador of lifelong learning. As readers of this blog know, I think elevator speeches are bunk, because everybody hears it all the time and they don't need to be insulted with an elevator speech. They already know. It makes me wonder how this library has moved from "just a library" to a cornerstone of our town. I'm not sure I know the answer, but I will give props to former director Jennifer Raimo, now retired and living on the West Coast. This woman is what I strive to be. She juggled all the responsibilities of being the "town librarian" with the grace of a ballerina.
When working within the community, I try to keep my opinions to myself. I reserve my opinions for library groups - but they do leak into my responsibilities in town and that is unfortunate. Some days I feel like I'm going to burst with opinion. But this week I just focused on our town and the street fair that brings tens of thousands of people into our small town for toasted cheeseburgers and funnel cakes. The kids play games and go on rides. Main Street is closed to cars, which makes any errand I run take 3 times as long. But it's the fair and I'll gladly spend a little more on gas.
People have childhood memories of the fair and return each year with their children and their grandchildren and sometimes their great-grandchildren to relive those memories. For the past 95 years, the rides go up and the parade snakes its way through town and people stake their claim to sidewalk space four days before the parade steps off. Many times, I stand back and survey the scene and think it's 1950. The school closes for Kiddie Day, when children can go to the fair and ride the rides for 1/2 price. It's always been that way and it always will be.
This year, the Lancaster Paper did something super cool - they send a photographer to the top of the old Royers Building and created a time lapse of the fair. Check it out and see what I mean.
Meanwhile, I'm putting library business on the back burner for the weekend. It's time to enjoy the fair and forget all my opinions so I can eat funnel cake and play over-priced games. I want to come home with a goldfish...just like every year.