Trip to Las Vegas sparks interest in library career | News

Muskogee Public Library’s new branch manager Jane Holt says she sees a lot of potential at the library.

“It’s a nice, big building, the people here — I get the feeling from them that they have a real sense of what libraries are,” she said. “Now that we’re out of the pandemic, there are so many things that we can do as far as outreach and projects and wonderful things.”

Holt started at MPL on Monday after coming from the Houston suburb of Humble.

“I kind of wanted to get away from the traffic and the noise and the congestion,” she said. “Someplace more slow, with a more hometown feel.”

Muskogee Public Library was just the right fit — a large library in a smaller city, she said.

“I think Eastern Oklahoma is so beautiful,” she said. “It reminds me a little bit of Austin, that’s where I grew up. It’s got so many trees, it’s got rolling hills and water. The topography of that is really pretty.”

Holt recalled her father was a library director in Austin.

“We always had books in the house. The paintings on the wall always changed because that was back in the days we could borrow artwork. We always had big LP records, so we were always listening to classical stuff, interesting music,” she said . “So it’s always been part of my life. I always had a library card.”

However, she said she had never thought of a library career until after she had held other jobs. She worked as a journalist in Iowa and worked in the retail business and hospitality business.

While living in Las Vegas, she visited a library.

“I was looking around at this gorgeous library, and I thought this was where I would really like to work,” she said.

Holt earned a master’s degree in information science from the University of North Texas.

She has worked with libraries for 10 years, serving as manager in Amarillo and Midland, Texas.

Retail, hospitality and library management are similar, she said.

“If you want to be in library work, besides libraries, the best way to prepare for it is customer service, because that’s what you’re doing,” Holt said. “The great thing about customer service in a library is you’re not selling people anything. They’ve already bought the service with their public support and tax money. You’re just showing them what they have and what’s available to them.”

Holt said she likes being able to “sell people on things that won’t cost them directly.”

She said the biggest challenge facing libraries is finding out where libraries actually fit in this high-tech world. She recalled when people called reference librarians to find out such things as who is on Mount Rushmore.

“It’s finding the needs and the gaps that do exist, and how to serve the public with that, and making people aware of the things that are available,” she said. “I think that the world is a better place because libraries exist. Communities are stronger for it. It’s almost like the most benevolent arm of the government. It’s always great when someone comes in and says, ‘I didn’t know I could get all these books on my phone, and I was stuck in a waiting room for the longest time.’ It’s great to shed a light on things that people may not be aware of that they can enrich their lives with.”

Meet Jane Holt

AGES: 64.

HOMETOWN: Austin.

EDUCATION: Education and psychology degrees from the University of Texas; Master’s degree in liberal arts, Washington University, St. Louis; Master’s degree in information science, University of North Texas.

FAMILY: Three sons.

HOBBIES: Playing piano, mixed media collage, modular origami.

MOST MEANINGFUL BOOK: “‘Stolen Focus, Why We Can’t Pay Attention.’ I love that book. It really makes you think about why we can’t pay attention anymore and why everything has to be in bite-sized pieces. It is really super interesting.”

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