The McDonald County Library has been closed to the public due to the covid-19 pandemic but, behind the scenes, a new interim director has taken the reins.
Hazel Sheets, a longtime resident of Pineville, officially became the interim director on July 15, following the departure of former library director Amy Wallain. Sheets is a graduate of McDonald County High School and has been employed by the library for more than five years.
When she started working at the library, she was in youth services. Then she became the director's assistant, and then she became the branch manager of the Pineville branch. She has worked at all three branches of the McDonald County Library.
She said that, when Wallain was preparing to leave the library, she asked her if she wanted to apply for the director position. Sheets did so, and she was told by the board she would be interim director until the end of the year because they wanted to encourage her to get her bachelor's degree before handing over the director's position. She plans on pursuing a bachelor's degree in business at Crowder College this fall and hopes to be finished by December.
Sheets said of the library, "I absolutely love it. It's home to me. My library card that I have today is the same number that I've had since I was a child. It's been valid for all these years."
She and her husband Patrick have two boys, Braxton, 12, and Jackson, 8.
"My children have always participated in the summer reading program, even before I was an employee here," she said.
Behind the scenes of the closed doors of the library, "We are still carefully monitoring the health and safety of our staff and patrons due to the increasing positive numbers of covid-19 in our community," she said. "We are once again offering curbside pickup at all of our library's locations. We also offer grab bags for children, which helps parents get reading materials to their children while we are still closed to the public. These bags are themed bags, picked by staff, with six children's books inside them, and can be easily reserved with a simple phone call to the library."
She noted, "We have also allowed staff to work varied part-time hours to keep the library running smoothly for when we are able to open to the public. It also gives us the opportunity to maintain clean materials and clean buildings."
She added the Noel branch is getting some new shelving in the children's section, which should give it a fresh look.
Sheets said her goals include maintaining the community-minded background that Wallain has put in place and continuing the library's programs.
"We want to be able to provide access to materials and resources and technology and contribute to our community as well," she said. "We want to make sure that the library is a safe and healthy community hub for people to eventually come back to."