Tucked away in a quiet hall within the Gambier Community Center is one of the Village’s hidden gems — the Gambier Community Library, which has been serving patrons from the Village since its inception in 1981. Branch Manager Cindy Dean oversees the operations of the library, which includes everything from placing book orders to organizing storytimes. She is enthusiastic about its future and hopes more people will utilize the library in the coming months: “The busier it is, the more I like it,” she said.
Dean took care to express that the library is organized with a great deal of love and attention to detail. Her favorite section is the children’s reading area, which she rearranged herself to facilitate play and engagement with the library’s resources. The children’s section features a large bulletin board that gets redecorated periodically for monthly storytime and crafting events that Dean hosts. For the December iteration, the board was transformed into a large bed with lines from Clement Clarke Moore’s “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” emblazoned at the top. Dean’s plan for the post-storytime craft is to have the children draw themselves on paper plates to be placed on the board, representing the children in the story “nestled all snug in their beds.”
Dean’s eagerness to include community members in the goings-on of the library extends readily to Kenyon students. “I’m trying to get more and more kids to come in. When I first took [the library] over, there wasn’t a lot of traffic. It was in 2021, and COVID was still out there — but my main goal was to have more people come in.” Dean credits the new Meadow Lane Student Residences, known colloquially as the “Mods,” with drumming up more library patrons due to their close proximity to the library. “The Meadow Lane apartments have driven up traffic, and I’ve actually had two Kenyon students come in and ask to volunteer for me.”
Having been involved with Knox County libraries for the last thirty years, Dean was quick to list the many services that Gambier residents can take advantage of. There is a small computer area located near the library entrance, and patrons are able to use the printers and copiers for a small fee. The library also participates in a statewide interlibrary loan system, which allows visitors to request books that Gambier doesn’t already have from any public library in Ohio. As Dean said: “If we don’t have it, we can get it for you.”
According to Dean, handling the day-to-day challenges of the library hinges on preparing as much as possible ahead of time. “I really don’t get stressed out too much. Sometimes when I’m getting ready for a program it can be stressful, but I do my stuff way ahead of time so I make sure I have enough supplies. For things like the summer reading program, I get a little flustered trying to get everything ready, but I don’t really panic much because I’ve been doing it for quite a while.”
Dean has become a fixture in the community through the many years she has been involved with Knox County libraries. During her interview with the Collegian, she frequently stood to greet library regulars and chat about the upcoming holiday season. At one point, a mother and her young son offered Dean a fresh cup of Wiggin Street Coffee that they had picked up for the librarian, illustrating the profoundly welcoming atmosphere of the space.
When asked about the future of the Gambier Community Library, Dean said that her main goal is simply to increase the number of people interacting with the library. “You know, I’d like to see more traffic coming in. Before I retire, I’m trying to get my stats way up with people coming in. That’s my major goal: more people and more kids.” Dean also noted that she’d love to see more Kenyon students in particular at the library. “[Chalmers Library has] all their textbooks and stuff like that, but this is more for enjoyment, so I want them to know that they can come here for fiction and nonfiction and just to say hello!”
The Gambier Community Library is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It can be reached at (740)-427-BOOK.