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By Jake Kohlmeyer

I started writing this blog entry with the intention of telling users about exciting ways to get more out of their library card, from going to one of our locations to check out museum passes, finding the next big hit song streaming on Hoopla, or coming by to take advantage of access to Ancestry.com resources on our library network. As I looked back on what we really do, and the people we serve, I realized, the stories of some of our users and what they get from the library could unveil some amazing moments.

Meet Cathy Bartley, a frequent face in many of our libraries, but specifically at EVPL North Park and EVPL Central.

A native of Evansville, Cathy finds herself frequently in the company of a good book or movie. In 2013, she had a liver transplant that turned many of her everyday routines upside down. Not only did her day-to-day schedule change, but also the physical setbacks changed her outlook on life. What was she to do with her time? Where could she go?

In the early days, she wondered if she would survive the transplant.

“Times were scary,” she said as she tried to adjust to her new reality. She turned to the library when she started planning the next steps.

“You had to grab ahold of what you can to bring reality back,” she told me as we chatted at EVPL Central on a chilly afternoon. That is just what she did as she looked for normalcy.  

She showed me the items she was checking out today. Blues CDs and a few novels. Her favorites.

Her sleeping habits have not been the same in recent years, and when she cannot sleep, she turns to books and music. She mentioned she deals with some short-term memory loss. Rereading old favorites has helped her find peace and comfort.

Cathy mentioned bouts of social anxiety; she does not like to find herself in large groups. Here she finds peace and endless opportunity. The experience at our libraries seems to adapt to her needs. She mentions again, how accommodating and helpful the staff has been.

One of the many other benefits of the library for Cathy has been friendships. For her, it is not just the librarians, but the community members here too. Over the years, she has befriended many security officers who are members of the Evansville Police Department. Her granddaughter sometimes accompanies her on her EVPL visits. They hunt for books and movies to enjoy together. Along the way, her granddaughter met one of our officers and helped her enroll in the EPD’s patrol camp for kids. Cathy appreciated the gesture. She feels this experience would not have been possible without the connection made at the library.

She gestured around us, at the stacks, computers, and media collections. “Coming here, you’ll never know what you’ll learn.”

I feel lucky to know her story.

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One of my favorite things about the library is how accessible it is. Computers bring books, movies, music, and more into a device that fits in the palm of my hand. You can be at home, perusing titles on the EVPL app, and place a hold. Is that DVD only at EVPL West? Put a hold on it and have it sent to a location closer to you for pick-up. Do we not have a title that you would find useful for some research? Never fear, for the Interlibrary Loan service is there to help. You can even open the new EVPL app, tap on the button for your library card, and instantly see your barcode. No need for a physical card!

Your library card grants you some amazing superpowers in this modern age, but sometimes, the traditional experience of coming into a location can just make your day!

Meet Jamye Wilson. She has always loved reading, but she has not always had access to a library experience like EVPL. She has lived in Pennsylvania, China, and here in our neck of the woods. We sat down to chat recently at EVPL North Park at the recommendation of the Experience Manager, Nancy Higgs.

When she lived in rural Pennsylvania, Jamye said she had cards for several local libraries. She homeschooled her kids and there were very strict limits on how much a patron could checkout. Lucky for her and the kids, some of the libraries wanted to help and bent the rules on occasion when they neared a limit. Moving to Evansville, Jamye expected more limits on checkouts.

“It was like I heard angels singing!” Jamye recalls as she asked the circulation staff what the checkout limit was when she first came to EVPL. She had to take a bit of time to process that she could have 100 items on loan at a time. She is excited that her family has access to a library like that of EVPL.

According to Jamye, “The library should be a community center, a crossroads of humanity.”

“Libraries should be welcoming,” she continued, before talking about how she feels welcome at our EVPL libraries. She has visited all our locations regularly except for EVPL Stringtown, but she intends to make her first visit soon.

In her experiences at EVPL, “You cross paths with new people, hang out, and share stories.”  She recommends everyone come in and be engaged in what’s interesting; in books and the world around us. Right now, her recommendations are The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery, The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl, and Gary Paulsen’s Brian’s Saga series, including Hatchet.

Jake Kohlmeyer
School Engagement Librarian of Practice

Jake Kohlmeyer


Jake Kohlmeyer is the School Engagement of Librarian of Practice at EVPL. A lifelong resident of Evansville, he is a self-proclaimed avid indoorsman, an advocate for shelter pets, and is constantly in search of a better cup of coffee.

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