Most people enter the world of libraries through the branches.
Waldo Branch Aide Marty Hatten did.
"I grew up in Indianapolis and went to the Brightwood Branch Library. I remember when Dr. Seuss's first book came out, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. I remember reading it in that branch library, and I can still see the tables," Hatten says.
Branch libraries are the bridge between the home and the world of knowledge accessible through books. Providing the first point of contact are employees like Hatten.
"I love seeing people enjoy the Library, coming to look for books and to use the computers," Hatten says.
A Waldo resident of 28 years, she started as a volunteer at the Waldo Branch soon after it was built in 1988 and has worked as a part-time aide for the past 15 years.
"I think libraries are a joyful place," Hatten says. "People want to learn, and I love seeing children come in and take out loads of books."
Hatten, who is 78 years old, also loves to learn.
Highly active in her Waldo neighborhood on a number of fronts, Hatten promotes the Library as a community learning resource through her work on the Waldo Area Program Planning Committee, which connects businesses and organizations through networking and outreach activities.
She also serves as a volunteer in the Adventures in Learning program at the Shepherd's Center, a nonprofit that helps older adults live more healthy, engaged, and independent lives.
Using readers' advisory skills she learned at the Library, Hatten co-teaches a class at the Center called Fun with Fiction with fellow Waldo librarians Alicia Ahlvers and Ashlei Wheeler.
But it was her role as a student at the Shepherd's Center that caught the Kansas City Star's interest.
In a February 11 article titled "The Unplugged Life: Meet the Neo-Luddites Among Us," Hatten was cited as an example of a senior citizen who is refusing to succumb to technophobia.
Though she uses a computer for her work at the Library, Hatten had no home computer until her grandkids bought her one this past Christmas. She's now taking computer literacy lessons at the Center from St. Teresa's Academy student Chelsea Birchmier.
"It was time. Things I'm involved in require knowledge of the computer," Hatten says.
Hatten uses e-mail and Facebook to communicate with friends, keep up with local organizations, and conduct research on authors. But she won't be taking up e-reading anytime soon.
"I use the computer as a reader, but not to read books," she says.
For reading real books, she's got the Great Books KC Book Group, a community-led group that meets at the Plaza Branch, and the Waldo Branch's 10-year-old Mysterious Undertakings Book Group, of which she is a founding member.
She's also ready to connect patrons with books.
"I recently helped someone looking for World War I mysteries because of Downton Abbey. I was able to recommend Jacqueline Winspear and Charles Todd," Hatten says. "If you help someone find someone they're looking for, that's always joyful."
And that's what being a branch librarian is all about.
About the Author
Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.