May-ing It Forward: Donation Celebration & New Books Dedication in Coolville

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Because of Richard and Karen Harvey’s most recent donation to ACPL, the youngest library users in Coolville have a flurry of brand new books from which to choose! And choosing was no easy task on May 16 when the library hosted a celebration storytime with the new books displayed within easy reach. The Harveys and Coolville Elementary School’s principal attended as special guests.

Coolville library staff spent months collecting popular topics and noting annual school projects that would benefit from updated library materials. After gleaning additional feedback from local teachers, they carefully selected which books to order.

Hocking Valley Bank added a further donation to help update and build the Coolville children’s collection. Our sincerest thanks to both the bank staff and to the Harveys!

Every donation makes a difference. Want to know more? Visit

More photos from the May 16 celebration in Coolville can be found on ACPL’s Flickr page.

Volunteer Week Thank You Highlights

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Thank You ACPL Volunteers!

All ACPL branches are made better and brighter by our many volunteers! From shelving and labeling books to planting flowers, every action makes an impact!

A few branch-specific thank you highlights from this year: 

“Our most loyal and loved volunteer, Sherrie Linton, works with us twice a week.  Her persistent good humor and willingness to take on repetitive tasks (genre stickering), detail work (storytime kit assembly), and messy things (kid crafting programs with paint!) are profoundly helpful in Nelsonville.  She is also an ace shelver, duster, and all around great spirit to have in our midst.  We are extremely grateful for her generous contribution of her time.”

“Thanks to Chauncey regular Amy Farnsworth, the garden strip on the north side of the building looks even better! Amy recently spent an afternoon clearing out the overgrown garden strip along the north side of the building and replanting it with perennials from her home garden.  We’re hoping that Amy and her son will continue working with us through the gardening season.

“[In Glouster] we are very fortunate to have several high school girls who pop in when they can to shelve books, do labelling or any other odd jobs we have for them.  They were a great help during the gingerbread house program, setting up for it and helping the kids with their creations. We are also very lucky to have Teresa and Amber, two sisters who have helped with several kids programs. And we have a lovely bunch of ‘lunch ladies’ who faithfully arrive every summer to help with the kids’ free lunches.  These ladies have been an excellent group on whom we can depend to make sure lunches go smoothly.”

“In Albany at Wells Public Library, four wonderful volunteers have led yoga classes for the last three+ years! They include Jen Mainelli, Jennifer Collins, Bill Fanning and Sharon Dunfee. A huge shout-out for their generosity!”

Proof that some of our volunteers have been with us for a while! This volunteer thank you plant used to be just as tiny as those in the box.

Find out how you can volunteer at your local library at

“Keep the ball rolling”: Harvey Dedication & Thank You Ceremony

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As a baby storytime gathered at Athens Public Library, a circle began to form made up of attentive, sing-laughing parents, guardians, library employees–and of course, our youngest library users. (If you’ve never been in a library during a storytime, I recommend that you seek out the experience; you’ll feel better about the world.)

The Harveys pose with ACPL staff in front of their plaque in the Athens Public Library children’s area.

As these same babies grow, they will eventually be able to explore books about the world, individual countries, states, and STEAM and other educational topics, in part because of the generosity of Richard and Karen Harvey, who were honored in a small February 21st, 2017 thank you ceremony.

The Harveys have made several donations over the years to help support and grow the current children’s collection. Look for a new batch of books in Athens made possible through the Harvey’s latest donation sometime in April 2017.

When asked what they’d like to share with young ACPL library patrons and their families if they could, the Harveys stressed both the life-altering importance and fun of reading. “In a world with so many screens, I would ask adults to encourage children to enjoy and benefit from books,” Karen Harvey said. Richard Harvey added that he’d tell a room full of youngsters to “Find a book that, while reading it, it moves you to read another one, just to keep the ball rolling, keep it rolling!” We couldn’t agree more.

Stay tuned for other exciting ACPL projects made possible by the Harvey’s vision and generosity, including in Coolville!

Other photos of the ceremony can be found on ACPL’s Flickr page.

Vaya con Huevos: ACPL’s James Hill Accepts Position as Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library Director

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Vaya con huevos.

“Go with eggs.” That’s a malapropism, but I take it to mean “Go gently.” A character from one of my all-time favorite novels, Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo, said that. You should read it sometime.

We are all the sum of our experiences, good and bad. I’m not a very introspective person generally, but as I finish up my time at Athens County Public Libraries, I’ve been reflecting back on how it has changed.

I started at the Athens branch in 1996 when it was a fairly new building (and I was fairly young!). I’ve worked at the main building in Nelsonville since 2005. In that time the system has had a fire in Albany, floods and near floods all around, budget crises, a tornado in The Plains, roof leaks, frozen pipes, mishaps and hilarity, zoo visits and author talks; we added bicycles and ebooks. The internet became a thing. There is little reference work anymore, but there’s fact checking and technology training. Alongside the computers, there are still books. There are still pencils, but not typewriters. Public libraries have adapted and grown and will continue to do so.

I’m leaving ACPL as the Assistant Director and Access Coordinator. Over the past 21 years I’ve also been a graphic designer, communications coordinator, branch manager (twice), Fiscal and Deputy Fiscal Officer, grant writer, book reviewer and furniture mover. I have dabbled in cataloging and human resources. I vaccumed floors when needed; I led a storytime once. I’ve also gotten married, earned a library degree, bought 3 different houses, became a father, got a dog, hiked, marched, and volunteered. My life has been here.

Over 45 years, I’ve lived in five states and countless towns and cities, but Athens is the only place that has felt like home. The family has built connections here that will always keep us tied to the area.

Begining Monday, I’ll be the Director at the Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library. It’s only 50 miles west, so you’ll still see me around. Someone called it a new project for me and I guess that’s right. I’m excited to learn from new co-workers and gather more experiences. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone, but not forgetting it.

Until we meet again, Adios amoebas.”


A Space to Call Home: Updated Teen Area Welcomes Young Patrons from Around the County

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Athens County teens are a unique and vibrant part of our library communities. Monthly “Teen Stuff” and online calendars sum up all the programs and projects we host just for this age group, and many of our branches now have designated spaces where teens can gather.

Below, ACPL’s Luke Bentley shares about his passion for working with teens and describes the newly revamped Teen Area in Athens, which hosted a grand opening celebration Oct. 25.

ACPL: What made you want to work in libraries and with teens?
Luke: My background is in education, particularly teaching in grades 7-12…What’s great about working in libraries is that I’m still involved in educating and enriching people’s lives, but there are no limits as to what I can do. If someone has a great idea, I can work toward making that happen to the best of my ability.  I also think that teens are often under-appreciated by adults, and underrepresented throughout society… I like to take teens seriously, because they deserve to be taken seriously.

Why are you celebrating and revamping this space at the Athens Public Library?

I wanted to make the changes in our Teen Space because, to put it simply, I didn’t think it worked as well as it could when it came to welcoming teens and making them comfortable.  I want teens from all over Athens County to know that if they need a sanctuary, or if they just need a place that they can come and be themselves, that this is that space.

Luke demonstrates how to make buttons at the Teen Area grand opening.


What are some highlights teens can expect from the space?

The central feature is our set of four, top-of-the-line computers that are reserved specifically for people in grades 7-12.  These computers will not only be reserved for usage for teens for most of the day, but they will also be equipped with the Adobe Creative Cloud, a suite of digital creation programs including Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Animate, and many other programs for image editing, video editing, audio editing, and more. You can also expect to be able to give your input on how you want the space to shift and change, and what you’d like to see displayed.

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In a perfect world, what are some of your dream teen programs?

In a world without limits, I would love to have regular programs where teens produce their own podcasts and YouTube videos, learn screenwriting and animation, or design their own video games and apps. I’d also love for teens to come to me and tell me what their passions are, and what kind of programs they themselves want to run here in the library, and I’d do whatever I could to help!

Tell us about a memorable moment from a recent teen program.

I visited Athens Middle School recently, and it was just fantastic to see all the teens who are so passionate about reading, and passionate about creating. I was walking through the halls after promoting our upcoming in-school program called Young Adult Book Club, and I overheard a group of students talking about how excited they were to come, and asking everyone else if they were coming.  Of course, I look forward to making more memorable moments when YABC starts!

What have Athens County teens taught YOU over the years?
The teens that I’ve been able to interact with teach me not to put my own passions down. Teens wear everything on their sleeves; they love what they love and they aren’t ashamed. I think people could learn to embrace themselves a bit more.

Guiding Ohio Online Returns: Meet Connor

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Free, face-to-face technology help at your local library is back! Start getting to know our 2016-17 Guiding Ohio Online Americorps service member Connor by making a one-on-one appointment with him + by reading his interview below:


ACPL: Welcome, Connor! What made you interested in Americorps? 

Connor: Americorps’ Guiding Ohio Online program provides a wonderful cocktail of library experience and service to the community. I was extremely excited by the opportunity to help make a positive impression on the area while also getting to be associated with an organization that is already committed to serving the community.

Where did you grow up, and what did you like most about it?

I am a local to Athens County, having graduated from Athens High School in 2009. There is a plethora of fantastic features to our county, and I believe that one is the incredibly diverse amount of produce that can be harvested throughout the area. A trip to the farmers’ market can yield anything from jalapenos to pears, making for a revolving door of wonderful eats.

What are some of your biggest interests? 

I have found myself growing more and more interested in the environment and how to best treat it with the love and care that it deserves. I suppose that the movie Silent Running left a lasting impression on me.

What should patrons expect from Guiding Ohio Online this year?

We are extremely lucky to have a library system that reaches from one end of the county to the other, and with the Guiding Ohio Online Program we are looking forward to being able to provide our services to all areas throughout Athens County. Our focus right now is on one-on-one tech help sessions. My goal is to visit each branch every week, and to assist as many patrons as possible.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Although I am far from being a wordsmith, I do dabble in writing poetry. Beyond my own writing, though, I really enjoy seeing others read their work. It also seems that no matter how long you’ve lived in the area, spending time outside in the county’s natural beauty is perpetually entertaining. I like to spend my time outdoors hiking, kayaking, and playing tennis with my parents.

Anything else you’d like us to know about you? 

I am absolutely in love with the original Star Wars movie and enjoy collecting fun and unique Star Wars memorabilia. Also, I am not afraid to admit that I like Wings way more than The Beatles.

What’s the easiest way to reach you?

I can be reached by email ( and also via telephone (740-249-9422).


Music to Our Ears: Local Musician Helps Young Patrons Write Their Own Tunes

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A memorable highlight from Summer at the Library 2016 involved a large dose of teamwork, paired with rhyming skills, a guitar, and recording equipment. In just four hours over two days, young patrons at branches in Nelsonville, Athens, and Chauncey created three original tunes with the help of an expert, local musician Megan Bee. The libraries recently asked Megan to tell us more about her music and the summer songwriting workshops. Megan hopes to keep working with young musicians and with ACPL in the future, and is excited to share her own original music as she tours.

Megan Bee with summer songwriting workshop participants.


(ACPL) Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to teach songwriting.
(Megan Bee) I have a background in environmental education. I have always loved teaching and working with kids.  Then music came into my life.  I had been co-writing with other songwriters and eventually decided to see if that process could work with a group of kids.  For the past two years I have been writing with groups in summer camp settings with great results.  This summer I was honored to work with local kids at the libraries.

Is it true you asked participants to sign a “contract” at the beginning of each workshop? Tell us about this.
Songwriting is a messy, silly, frustrating process sometimes, so it’s important for everyone to have an agreement right from the start.  I have kids agree to 3 things:

1. Be positive … Even if you don’t like someone’s idea, stay positive because that idea might help us get to a better idea.  If we get negative, people start to close off, then the ideas can’t flow out.

2. Be creative… For the process to work, you have to speak up and share your ideas no matter how silly they might sound.  If no one spoke up, we’d never have a song.  You can’t just sit in the back and take notes.

3. Have fun…Songwriting is fun.

What will you take with you from this experience?
It’s so inspiring to work with kids.  When I go into a workshop I know by the end of the two hours we’ll have a song recorded.  Sometimes I think that’s a crazy goal, but they have always come up with a song under the pressure.  It’s great to see the words and ideas fly around the room, then come together at the last minute.  I love those moments where everything clicks together.  As a writer on my own, sometimes I have trouble getting started.  The workshops remind me how fun and easy it can be, and how much I love working with groups where everyone’s ideas build together.


Teen Library Patrons Awarded Peacemaking Grant

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What do you do when you see a need in your community? If you’re Marissa and Alexis, two rising high school seniors and young library patrons in Athens County, you create the “Helping Hands to Mend Hearts Project,” a new, award-winning teen peer support group.

“We know a lot of people dealing with things like stress and mental health,” Marissa shared during an interview at Wells (Albany) Public Library, where the group has been meeting. “We wanted to create a place where you can be yourself, to show how you’re really feeling in a safe space.” She added that sometimes talking to an adult can be intimidating, and that having people your own age to open up to, and who are usually going through similar things, is also key.

The two articulate and creative teens were already coming to the library to work on online projects. Soon, it became a regular weekly activity, eventually growing into what’s now known as Teen Night. Thursdays during the school year from 4-5:30pm, teens can gather for crafting, games and free snacks. Or, simply to talk through the stresses and trials many young people face. “A couple of times when we’ve met, we just cried, and that’s what we really needed,” Alexis said, recalling one Teen Night gathering after an especially grueling week of required school testing.

Peggy Gish, Marissa, Alexis and Rachel at the Wells Public Library.

Another reason the teens have chosen to host “Helpings Hands…” at Wells is Rachel Everett, children and youth librarian who has become both a mentor and friend. It was Rachel who first read about the Art Gish Peacemaking Fund online and immediately reached out to Marissa and Alexis, encouraging them to apply.

“I knew that this grant was looking to empower community members to do the work that they do, and these two immediately came to mind,” she said, adding that it’s been rewarding to see Marissa and Alexis receive recognition.

In fact, the two are the very first teens to both apply for and be awarded a grant from the Art Gish Peacemaking Fund, now in its fifth year. While deciding this year’s grant recipients, Peggy Gish, an Athens County writer and activist, visited Teen Night with other grant board members to meet with the teens and to get a better sense of what they were working towards. What she found were two young friends who were organizing and serving, which she found impressive.

“This is an award that wants to support people who are just learning how to support their communities,” she said. “When we ask ourselves, ‘What is peace? What is justice?’, it doesn’t always mean something on the other side of the world. There are all kinds of needs in our society that can lead to local conflict—or local community.”

Alexis and Marissa hope that “Helping Hands…” group participants can experience free expression, host art shows, and even conduct fundraisers to help strengthen the local Albany area and beyond. They will use their award to purchase games, art supplies, and refreshments. “Nothing is better than sharing a meal with somebody,” Alexis said, smiling, “even if it’s just cheese and crackers.”

“It feels amazing,” Marissa said when asked how it feels to be a grant recipient. “And to not just be helping myself but others, too.”

All teens are welcome at the Helping Hands to Mend Hearts Project meet-ups, and its two founders are already thinking about how they might hold meetings at other county library buildings. They want others to know that everything in their meetings is confidential, and that they are connected to community resources that can offer further support and resources for anyone who needs them. Teens can call the Wells Library at (740) 698-3059.

“It’s a lot easier to think you’re alone,” Alexis admitted. But the major work of Helping Hands is to prove to area teens that they are anything but.

Stay tuned to see what these inspiring teen leaders do next!