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Rebekah Akers, 36, bound her love of books and her passion for community into her position as Adult and Public Services Librarian at the Hardin County Public Library.
She always has loved libraries and some of her earliest memories include spending time in the college library near her childhood home in Berea.
“I can still remember how it smells,” she said.
Her father was in the forest service and the family moved to Berea when she was 2. She attended Eastern Kentucky University and earned a degree in elementary education. She taught two years in Somerset, where she met her husband, John, also known as Tree.
His job as a youth minister took the couple to South Carolina for five years until an opportunity opened at an Elizabethtown church six years ago. Because John is an Elizabethtown native they decided to take the position and move back to Kentucky.
He currently serves as minster to students at Northside Baptist Church.
She loves being a student minister’s wife and doesn’t know how John keeps up his enthusiasm and energy level so well. Because of work she doesn’t get to go on as many youth trips with him as she used to. but enjoys hanging out with the students and seeing them when she can.
She volunteers in kindergarten and first-grade children’s church on Sundays.
When the couple first moved to Elizabethtown, she was an elementary school teacher at G.C. Burkhead Elementary School and then Heartland Elementary School. Two years ago, she finished a master’s degree in reading and literacy. She resigned from the school system and became an adjunct instructor in the developmental studies department at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College.
The first semester, she taught in the classroom and online. Now she only teaches online classes because it fits in well with her job at the library.
Akers began working at the library after seeing a job opening posted on a door. She jumped on the opportunity because of her love of books and memories of working in libraries in high school and college.
A year ago, she began focusing on adult and public services, going beyond books and into the community.
Her job is to connect patrons who want to share what they can do with others who want to learn a skill, she said.
“I look at the library as being a gathering place, kind of a hub of the community,” she said.
She wants the library to be a place new residents are directed to when they move to town and need something to do.
Part of the success of the job is listening to what patrons would like to do and then going out into the community to find people who can make it happen.
One patron wanted to play bridge; another wanted to learn how to do simple repairs in her home.
Those two requests started a bridge club and a handyman class taught by Lowes’ employees. She’s also coordinated with the Hardin County Cooperative Extension office, the health department and other community organizations and businesses to create classes.
Akers said her work has been an eye-opening experience as she learns what some businesses and organizations will do for their community through these activities.
But it was books that brought her to the library.
She loves fiction stories, mostly the classics. Her favorite book is “Jane Eyre” and her favorite authors include Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy.
Thomas Merton is her favorite theological author.
Mystery is the genre that holds Akers’ interest and Sherlock Holmes tops her list. Some modern authors of mystery she follows are Charles Todd’s Inspector Rutledge series, Anne Perry and Alexander McCall Smith.
Above all other books, children’s books remain her favorite. Authors such as Louisa May Alcott, C.S. Lewis and Carolyn Haywood captured her imagination as a child and as an adult.
There’s something about older books that make them seem better, she said.
She prefers hard copy books to an e-reader and swears she’ll never use one. She admits an e-reader probably brings people to reading who wouldn’t have read before and she likes the devices for that reason.
But for Akers, she loves having the actual book in her hands and around the house.
Reading is a part of taking time to be quiet and to slow down.
She often quotes a speaker she heard once say, “You must ruthlessly delete hurry from your lives.”
You choose everything you do and if you want to not be so busy, you have to ruthlessly delete some things from your life, Akers said.
You can have silence and peace when you need it, she said.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or email@example.com.
Getting to know Rebekah Akers