By Jodi Rawson
Suzanne Davis has been the children’s librarian at the Sandpoint branch of the East Bonner County Library District for 13 years. She was the first friend I made in Sandpoint and I know that I am not alone. I have often called the library my “second home,” and Davis said there is a concept of this “third place” to hang out besides your first place of home or your second place of school/work.
“It is a place for kids to come that is safe. A lot of times kids are on their own after school from about third or fourth grade on, so the library provides activities and homework space. A large number of families in our communities home school and there are resources and community for them here,” says Davis.
For the first few years, while my kids were home schooled, the library was my only social life. Davis is one of the few people who have ventured out to my homestead up North. She fell in love with my baby goats and organized a makeshift petting zoo (in the grass where the addition now stands) and this event brought smiles to dozens of children and parents. One friend nailed it when she told Davis that she has the gift of creating events that bring people together.
“Libraries are changing right?” Davis says. “We are more than just being about books. It is a place to explore emerging technology, like virtual reality and drones, but it is also a place to meet other families, make friends and see what the community has to offer, so we are more of a community meeting spot.”
The remodel has been quite an adjustment, but Davis adapted by reaching out to the community. “With the remodel we took almost a year off, but we went out in the community and did programs with Creations, Kootenei Elementary, the Bonner Museum and the Panhandle Animal Shelter.”
“We work with very closely with Kootenei Elementary School because of individual teachers who are interested in collaborating. A library and school district partnership would be even more powerful, but we don’t have that level of partnership, so we work with individual classrooms and individual schools,” says Davis.
Currently Davis is working towards her masters in library science. She describes one class on cataloging as the “theoretical underpinnings of library science.”
Her hope for the future is to iron out all of the program schedules in the new space and get some help. “I can only do a few programs a week and still juggle all of my other responsibilities, so we are looking into hiring extra staff to help with children’s programs, so I can focus on the big picture,” Davis says.
“I would love to have more staff so that we could offer the community more, and I would like to be more forward thinking,” says Davis. By “forward thinking” she means that, “the world is changing, and it is harder and harder to compete and get a job without knowing how to code and being a great reader.”
“Together we can accomplish much more than we can individually,” Davis says. She feels that improving programs involving early literacy, science and technology are vital to our community and that collaboration could be the answer.
“If there was one platform where all of our community groups could combine, I feel like we could better serve the community without wasting resources,” Davis says. With her platform from the library, she is constantly working to build bridges to better serve the community. “More partnerships reach more people,” she says.
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