Schuyler Public Library has started a new chapter under Jenny White, who replaces MeMe Smith as library director.
White, a Kearney native, recently moved back to the United States after spending eight years in Hong Kong, where she worked for the American International School as a librarian and gathered many new ideas and programs that could be used in Schuyler.
“It all depends on what Schuyler wants,” White said. “I love book clubs, reading programs, study groups and all the different kinds of resources we can have. I would just love to see that all come together for Schuyler."
White calls one of her plans for the local library “one seed of an idea."
“We have a huge collection of cake pans,” White said. “I think it would be a lot of fun to have cake decorating classes. Especially at the new location, I mean we would have so much more space to be able to do it.”
Reading has always been a part of her life. Every year her mother would ask White to join the library’s summer reading program. Through reading, White said, she was able to learn there's much more to life than what lies within the Kearney city limits.
“There’s this one quote by Mason Cooley,” White said. “It goes like, ‘Books give us some place to be when we have to stay where we are,' and I think that sums it up succinctly. Reading can take you anywhere from outer space to the ocean. It can take you anywhere you’d like, whether you’re an old reader or a young reader.”
As far as Hong Kong goes, White found it to be interesting.
“In some ways it was very modern and urban,” White said. “In other ways it was very behind the times. But it was pretty easy for a foreigner to get around. It was also very bilingual — every sign there was in Cantonese and English, so that made it much easier to go about your day.”
The native wildlife certainly threw her for a loop. Beetles the size of a fist, millipedes and gargantuan spiders never failed to keep White on her toes. And the bugs weren’t the only animals to alarm her.
“I remember I was waiting on the bus to get into town one day,” White said. “Out of the corner of my eye I see this thing moving around and I thought it was a dog. I turned around and saw a monkey digging through the garbage."
Along with her transition back into American life, White has also been finding her flow as the new library director. She's excited about the new library building that's expected to open next year along Colfax Street and hopes to bring more people to the library to learn, grow and become an even closer community.
“Stop by and introduce yourself,” White said. “I’m new to town.”
But she's not unfamiliar with it.
Her husband Bill is a Schuyler native. His job took the couple to Hong Kong and back to his hometown.