In partnership with the Lebanon County Library Association, LebTown is proud to introduce “Library Letters,” a series of columns about the programming, people, and possibilities offered by libraries around the county.

Today’s letter is from Maureen Bentz, Interim Director of the Vernon and Doris Bishop Library at Lebanon Valley College.

In several recent reference sessions I’ve conducted at Lebanon Valley College, gender has been a recurring theme in student research. Student questions have led me to consider ongoing disparities such as the wage gap and the “pink tax,” as well as the positive roles women play in management positions. As a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about my female colleagues in leadership in libraries throughout Lebanon County.

Often, librarians avoid the spotlight in their duties. Promoting basic literacy at every age is in itself a daunting task, but they don’t stop there. They are actively involved in encouraging increased civic education, social engagement, financial knowledge, healthy lifestyles, and information and media literacy. Librarians cultivate relationships with other community partners, and promote story times, book groups and new online formats of information (databases, open access scholarship, ebooks, eaudiobooks, etc.) It’s no small task.

These female leaders often manage staff and volunteers, buildings and technology, finances and fundraisers, security and safety, plus marketing and social media. The variety of professional opportunities draws many to these positions and, at the same time, can be very overwhelming and exhausting.

Last January, the Lebanon County Library Association, which includes librarians and staff from elementary and high school libraries, academic libraries, public libraries, and special libraries, began submitting this column: “Library Letters.” The first article was titled, “This isn’t your mom’s school library.” And while that’s still true, our libraries have evolved in ways we could never have foreseen before the pandemic. I am so grateful for every single one of the daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers who continue to lead and actively advocate for better futures for their communities in the face of the extreme adversity of the last year.

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