Yvonne Tolman talks about the potential of the Emma Humphrey Library in Vale last week. Tolman recently stepped into the part-time librarian slot. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL)
VALE – Yvonne Tolman believes in the power of books.
“I love books. Reading has always been important to me,” she said.
Tolman, who stepped into the head librarian position at the Emma Humphrey Library at 150 A St. E. last week, said she wants to push the facility to a new level in terms of access for local residents.
One important step, she said, is to switch the hours of the library.
“I’d like to be open when a lot of the public can be here,” said Tolman.
Now the library hours are Tuesday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Tolman said she’d like to be able to open the library at least one night during the week.
“I’d like to see this be a happening place,” said Tolman.
Tolman, who grew up in Homedale, came to Vale nine years ago and holds down a full-time job with the Vale School District as an instructional assistant for special education students.
She said she is excited about her part-time gig as librarian and wants to focus on attracting younger readers.
“I want kids to know there is a library here,” said Tolman.
Tolman said she wants to expand the juvenile fiction section of the library and offer programs for high school students.
“Maybe do a tutorial program a couple of nights a week for high school students,” she said.
Tolman said she worries the draw of printed books may be receding.
“I feel like the internet has taken over and we don’t need books. Well, we do need books,” said Tolman.
Tolman said she believes introducing children early to books is important.
“If we can get kids in here to understand reading is fun it will stay with them,” said Tolman.
In line with that goal, Tolman said she is contemplating several ideas.
“I’d like to do an early reader program and build on that. Or do an art project connected to a book,” said Tolman.
Tolman, 42, said she also wants to buy more books.
“There is a lot of open space and I’d like to see it filled with books,” said Tolman.
One major challenge Tolman faces is funding.
The amount of money the city funnels to the library is modest but Tolman said there are other avenues to find cash.
“There are lots of grants out there. There is money on the table, you just have to go find it,” said Tolman.
Todd Fuller, Vale city manager, said the city considers the library “a high priority.”
“I think we can make it a good focal point for elementary, middle and high school students,” he said.
Fuller said he believes the library can be a cornerstone for Vale.
“We just need to figure out how to entice people to come and use it,” said Fuller.
Fuller said he also believes the internet has played a role in reducing the significance of libraries.
“Just from my experience, the library was always kind of a place where, if you needed information, you could go to it. One of the difficulties now, is you have access to the internet so you don’t really need to go to the library for information,” said Fuller.
The 2020 Oregon Public Library Snapshot showed the library served 1,875 people, including 1,086 people with library cards and 789 without.
Besides books, the library offers six public computers and wifi access.
Tolman, who wanted to be an attorney, saw the advertisement for the library position in the Enterprise and decided to apply because of her love of books.
Tolman earned an associate’s degree in business administration from Treasure Valley Community College and is attending Eastern Oregon University to earn degrees in business administration and in English writing.
Tolman said she and her husband wanted to raise their six kids in a small-town environment and Vale fit the bill.
Tolman said she believes there are lots of opportunities for the library.
“We just need to get people in here,” she said.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]
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