Two Cass County libraries started the New Year with new librarians.
While both the Harrisonville and Drexel branches are welcoming the new leadership, the respected librarians from both locations have more in common than their interest of serving their communities with books.
Harrisonville librarian Karen Allen, 48, and Drexel librarian Deb Bova, 53, share a friendly rivalry between their alma maters.
Allen, who took over the role as the Harrisonville librarian Jan. 13, is a conspicuous Mizzou fan after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1991 with a degree in natural resources.
Her colleague, Bova, took on the similar role at the Drexel branch Jan. 5.
Bova, a rivaling Jayhawk, graduated from the University of Kansas in 1982 with a dual degree in psychology and human development and family life.
Oddly, neither of the women had early aspirations to become librarians.
Instead, through the course of life events, Allen and Bova developed an interest in the world of libraries that would bring them to this point in their careers.
As a homeschooling mother, Bova, a 15-year Drexel resident, often frequented the local library as a resource for her lessons and activities for her children.
“Being a home-school mom for 20 years, you do a lot of work in the library,” Bova said. “The library is a wonderful resource for home-schoolers not only for curriculum, but also programing.”
Allen, a resident of Harrisonville for the past 17 years, also developed an interest for libraries when she started bringing her twin daughters to story time when they were young.
“I brought my girls for story-time here when they were 2 years old at Harrisonville,” Allen said. “I developed a love for libraries at that time.”
As her children became older, Allen took a clerical position with the Garden City Library about nine and a half years ago. She had been looking for a part-time job with hours similar to her children’s school schedule.
After working as a library clerk for three years, Allen accepted the role of librarian in Garden City. She oversaw the Garden City branch for more than six years, until she was promoted to take over the management of the Harrisonville library.
Allen replaces Diane Christensen, who left the Cass County library system for a position at Mid-Continent Public Library.
“I like working in the community I call home,” Allen said. “My goal is to continue to provide materials and resources for entertainment, lifelong learning, provide effective and courteous customer service, and provide a safe and inviting environment. I hope that by providing these things, we will be able to support and enrich people’s lives.”
Bova replaces Connie Allen, who retired at the end of 2013.
“Connie Allen was an awesome asset for the library system. She made the library a very welcoming place,” Bova said. “She developed the branch to be more of a community center instead of just a library. I’m interested in continuing what she has started, and looking for more opportunities for outreach into the community. We’re not a ‘shhh’ kind of library.”
Both librarians are also responsible for managing employees, meeting patron needs, and overseeing their library’s programing, among other things.
“Libraries still have a great role in the 21st century,” Allen said.
Bova added that she enjoys connecting with the patrons and kids to meet their needs.
In recent years, libraries have emerged to offer both traditional resources, as well as more electronic resources.
Both Bova and Allen have noticed that their patrons have also developed an interest in e-books. She said the library staff plays a critical role in helping users access the electronic materials on their tablets and e-reader devices.
The same is true in Drexel.
“First and foremost, our biggest priority is connecting our patrons with information,” Bova said.
“As libraries are moving forward into this vastly, technology-changing world, you have more requests for electronic information.”
Bova said a lot people aren’t aware of the fact that patrons can check out e-books though the library for free.
Bova joined the staff of the Drexel library three years ago, as a clerk, before her recent promotion. Before her initial employment with the library, Bova also co-led a home-school co-op at the library.
Because of her familiarity with the library, Bova was offered a part-time position at the Drexel branch.
Bova said her knowledge of the community, patrons and the library’s system was then a factor in her selection for the librarian position.
“It was a real seamless transition because of that,” Bova said.
For more information about the Cass County Public Library, visit www.casscolibrary.org or the “Cass County Public Library” on Facebook.