A new direction

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Sheri Simcox, For The Lancaster News

Rita Vogel, the new director for the three Lancaster County libraries, envisions the library system becoming even more of a valuable resource for information and connections, assisting in the advancement of the people of Lancaster County.

“I want people to see the library as a place where they can find reason for hope,” Vogel said. “I would like to train people to see what good information we have for them to use at their fingertips.”

With Lancaster County Library Board  and Lancaster County Council’s approval, Vogel hopes to develop the libraries’ services and use for the public more.

“We need an expanded library facility and renovations. I would love to have a library for basic computer classes and classes on how to download e-books,” Vogel said. “I’d love to have an extra computer technician to offer individuals these classes.” 

“I will try to guide my plans with what the council sees fit to do,” she said.

Increasing awareness of resource secrets the library already offers to its patrons is another goal of the library, according to Vogel.

“The library is not just books anymore. It is being connected to the world. We may not have every answer, but we can get information from our technology sources like our DISCUS (online information database) system,” Vogel said.

Vogel compares the libraries’ services, which may not be realized by many people in the county, to a common, favorite type of restaurant – providing services, instead of food.

“My goal would be to increase (the impact of) the library and to increase perception of the library to make people aware of what a buffet of resources it is,” Vogel said.

Vogel said her goal is to assist the community in becoming more aware of its resources and services. Some of these services include placing computer holds on books and DVDs through the S.C. Lends Consortium.

Lancaster County Library is one of 18 counties in the state exchanging books and media materials to patrons free of charge. Patrons are notified by email or phone, and the books, DVDs and materials are held at the library for five days.

“It (gives us) the ability to get patrons what they need or want. If we don’t have a book, we will find it through the South Carolina Lends Consortium,” Vogel said. “This is specific to Lancaster County. We joined the consortium last year.”

In addition to the more traditional library services of lending books and promoting reading for youth patrons with “Ms. Brenda” Parker’s Storytime and the Summer Reading Program, the library offers faxing (sending and receiving), computer printing (black/white and color) and a self-service copier machine at comparatively reasonable prices.

Vogel said the library continues to maintain its selection of books and e-books with the latest, newly published arrivals and old favorites in adult, youth, juvenile and children’s sections. It also offers access to free specially-designed audio book machines for the hearing impaired and the legally blind.

Some of Vogel’s favorite authors and titles, all available at the libraries, include the true crime genre for adults with Anne Rule and Jerry Bledsoe, biographies and “standards” for children, like Eric Carle, Marc Brown, Cynthia Rylant, Shel Silverstein and Crockett Johnson.

“I love the concept of ‘Harold and the Purple Crayon’ by Crockett Johnson – if you need it, here take this crayon and draw it. All that you need to take with you is a crayon,” Vogel said.

Vogel’s role as the director for the library system and setting future goals for the development of the library with the Lancaster County Library Board are responsibilities she takes seriously.

“The perspective for the director of the library calls for my dedication. I feel a strong ethic when it comes to my job. Everything I do has to be in the best interest of the library, library staff and patrons,” Vogel said.

Vogel said what makes her position special and inspires feelings of dedication are the people she serves.

“I appreciate people so much. Every single person brings something unique. I cherish getting to know them. I love going out to work at the desk while working with all of the other staff,” Vogel said.

She said the atmosphere of Lancaster County, combined with her 25 years of library service experience as branch managers in surrounding counties, made Lancaster feel like a match.

“Being the director of the Lancaster County Library looked very interesting and challenging; I was ready for a little more of a challenge. I am very happy with everyone, including the population and the staff. It is a good cross section of all kinds of people,” Vogel said. “I love the people I work with and the people I meet. It is an opportunity and a privilege.”

Vogel said she can relate to the patrons of the library because many are personally aspiring to advance, just as she worked her way through the levels of the library system. As a mother of three, Vogel began her library work as a full-time shelfer while earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in library science.

“If there’s a message to my story, it is that you can do it. You can go back to school and make it work. It is doable,” Vogel said.

Vogel said she hopes the library’s services, staff and atmosphere will continue to look to the future as it assists its patrons in moving forward in their lives in a peaceful, positive place.

“We live in a world that can be impersonal. We hope that you see a friendly face to help you with what you need,” Vogel said. “It is uplifting. I hope that this is a place where you just come and are glad to be here.”