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Karen Record leaves her desk at the Crawfordsville District Public Library and walks into the children’s activity room, sitting down on the floor next to an oversized stuffed rabbit and bear.
Eleven-month-old Robbie Bernhardt and his mother, Melissa, have arrived for Baby Story Time, where they start by doing the motions for “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” After more songs, Record brings out picture books about farm animals, letting Robbie feel the feathers of a cartoon duck.
“Our job is to instill the love of reading,” said Record, who is beginning her 40th year working at the library.
As director of the children’s services department, Record manages the collection of children’s and young adult materials and organizes programs and activities for children up to middle school. The staff also travels to local preschools for story times, and teachers can request monthly boxes of books to supplement their classroom libraries.
“I think she’s the face of what we want for everybody here: very friendly, welcoming and helpful,” director of library services Theresa Tyner said.
In 1979, the library was headquartered across the street in the original limestone building erected with money from wealthy steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. An auto dealership still occupied the site where the library later expanded. Record got a high school job shelving books and was trained to work the circulation desk and handle the collection of videocassettes.
She kept the part-time schedule during college breaks and over the 17-1/2 years she taught at Walnut Elementary School before leaving the classroom in 2006 to become assistant director of children’s services in the newly christened library building. She was named department director the following year.
With more space for activities in the larger building, the schedule of children’s programs began to grow. The library offers at least a dozen programs, many of them daily, for youth. Children enrolled in any Montgomery County school can receive a complimentary library card.
Families gather for crafts and story times and the youngest readers are challenged to finish 1,000 books before kindergarten.
“We love our families. They’re very supportive,” Record said.
Record wants to bring back programs for teens, such as the graphic novel reading club, cooking classes and other hands-on activities the department once offered. The library now has a program that serves children in grades five through eight.
For more information about the library’s children’s programs, visit www.cdpl.lib.in.us.