OAK HILL — Becky Kellum brings decades of experience in practically every aspect of running libraries to her position as the new director of the Fayette County Public Library system.
She said much of the reasoning behind her acceptance of the job is because of the mountains.
Kellum, who was born on a small Ohio farm and lived all her life in southeastern Ohio, said she and her husband, Dave, have found their home in Fayette County.
While born and raised in a section of Ohio that features “some pretty neat places,” Kellum said, “We always wanted to live somewhere else. It was either going to be here or Wyoming.
“We have two dogs and nine cats and it was a little easier to transport them down here.
“Yes, nine,” she laughed. “Cats that found us.”
A librarian for more than 30 years, Kellum actually retired for a couple years.
“It was my intention to travel and get caught up on a couple things, (but) I went back to work at Muskingum University for three years. I was the circulation supervisor and had between 25 and 28 students at different times that I supervised.”
Kellum started her career in an elementary school library, but soon took a job with a public library.
“A job came open at a library in southeastern Ohio, in Cambridge, Ohio, and I became assistant director and children’s librarian for six years there. I did all the ordering of books, the children’s programming, summer reading, toddler time, story time.
From there, she went to the state library of Ohio, called Southeastern Ohio Regional Library Center.
“It used to be a bookmobile center and then it morphed into — for that region, I think it was seven counties and 11 libraries we served — it became more of a consortium caring for smaller libraries that couldn’t have a stand-alone system, so they joined us.”
When she left in 2013, she said they had more than 100 libraries that were part of that consortium.
“I was the reference supervisor, cataloging, I did ordering, and the bookmobile center kind of morphed into a mobile lab. They put computers on it and went around to the different libraries — they didn’t have to be in the consortium, they could be any library in Ohio that wanted a mobile traveling lab that would come out and park in front of the library and have classes,” she said in an interview early in her Fayette County tenure.
It was after that stint that the Kent State graduate decided to retire.
After two years of “retirement,” however, she took the university job, working three years at Muskingum before deciding she wanted to be back in the world of public libraries.
“Then I came down here.”
Kellum said she and her husband spent lots of time exploring West Virginia prior to the move.
“We’ve been to Cass Railroad, we’ve been (to southern West Virginia) a couple of times and spent some time at Hawks Nest State Park, been to Lewisburg a couple of times, The Greenbrier, been to Seneca Rocks, Shepherdstown, we’ve been over that way, and Harpers Ferry. We really like it here, like the mountains,” she said.
Kellum said she was pleased by what she has seen of the local library system.
“I see a lot of potential here,” she said. “It’s a small community, area, but from what I’ve heard, the patrons are supportive. The levy passes all the time.
“The staff, they seem like they’re very into the community, into the library providing programs for their patrons.”
Aside from traveling, Kellum said she enjoys reading, walking and simply exploring new areas.
“We like to travel, we want to explore West Virginia more. We like animals. I like walking. I’m not sure about jumping off the bridge at Bridge Day,” she laughed. “My husband’s a motorcyclist. I humor him and go with him occasionally. I’d rather use my own two feet or a car.”
Kellum said she’s considering rafting, having earlier done a gentle trip on the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania, but she might not be up for a fall Gauley trip. “I’ll stand on the bank and watch.”
Before the travels commence in earnest, though, Kellum said she’s enjoying getting to know the library system and the community as a whole.
She wants Fayette County residents to feel free to access all the system, its six branches, the bookmobile and its extensive online offerings.
“We’re here for you,” she said. “We’d like to hear what you’d like to have.
“I’m looking at some training, maybe, down the line, for patrons and staff, too. We’d like to offer some things for the public, different kinds of programming and know what they’d like to see.”
For more information on the Fayette County Public Library system, visit its website at fayette.lib.wv.us.
Email ckeenan@register-herald. com; follow on Twitter @Fayette_Cheryl