When Cathy Hunter first started working maintenance for the Portsmouth Public Library, she never expected to stumble onto an opportunity that would lead to her being recognized for her service to the community through library outreach services.
In 2006, after several years in the maintenance department, Hunter learned that the library was very much in need of substitute drivers for the bookmobile. The bookmobile, holding over 4,000 items from the library’s collection and serving as the primary library branch for many outlying areas within the county, requires the driver to have a Class B CDL to operate the vehicle. With this information, Hunter decided to step up and take the initiative to obtain her CDL driver’s license.
“It wasn’t easy,” Hunter said. “It took a lot of believing in myself and some intense training for me to get my CDL.”
After receiving her certification, Hunter began to drive the bookmobile to nursing homes, elementary schools, and to other of its various 63 stops, giving access to books, magazines, CD’s and audiobooks to members of the community with otherwise limited access to library services.
Hunter quickly took to her new position as a bookmobile clerk and went above and beyond her duties to establish one on one connections with members of the community.
After a total of 18 years with Portsmouth Public Library, Hunter was chosen to receive the Ohio Library Council’s 2017 John Phillip Outreach Award, which recognizes dedicated individuals for their exceptional library service. Hunter was nominated for the award by coworkers, with members of the community also supporting her nomination.
“Cathy is truly dedicated to her work with the community,” said Rhonda Webster, coworker and fellow bookmobile clerk. “The award is well deserved.”
Hunter believes she has just been doing what she loves to do. She was surprised with the news of her achievement by coworkers and welcomed the news with happy tears. Hunter is the first recipient of the John Phillip Outreach Award representing the Portsmouth Public Library.
“I am so humbled by this experience,” Hunter said. “It is so nice to be acknowledged for something I believe in so strongly. For me I feel that I’m just doing my job.”
Hunter attributes the dedication to her work to the sense of fulfillment it brings her.
“I’m a people person,” Hunter said. “Being involved with the community and having a hands on role with library patrons is wonderful. When a child visits the bookmobile and says ‘I’ve found the perfect book.’ And their eyes light up. Just seeing the joy on their face, it’s the most rewarding experience.’”
Hunter plans to continue her duties as a bookmobile clerk for as long as she can.
“I’ll stop when I’m no longer able to do my job,” Hunter said. “I’ll always continue to serve the community.”
Until such a time comes, Hunter will continue bringing the bookmobile, along with all it has to offer, to parades, festivals, and its weekly community stops.
Hunter and the Portsmouth Public Library encourage patrons of all ages to stop by the bookmobile at any of its stops or special events and take a look inside. Although the bookmobile has a very busy schedule, they are always open to new suggestions for community stops.
Hunter and the other 2017 honorees of the Ohio Library Council will be recognized at the Awards and Honors Luncheon in October at the OLC’s Expo in Dayton, Ohio.