Amie Lemire Joins Elsie Quirk Library – Editor’s Note: We spoke with Amie Lemire, the new manager at Elsie Quirk Library located at 100 West Dearborn Street in Englewood. The hours are 10am to 5pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and 10am to 8pm on Monday and Wednesday.
Where did you move here from and why did you decide to pursue this opportunity?
My most recent “pit stop” before moving to Florida was Connecticut, and before CT, I enjoyed a glorious 2-year adventure living in the Caribbean. And before that, I lived in New York City for 14 years. I like to say that I moved from one island of 9 million people (NYC) to another island of approximately 4,000 people (St. John, Virgin Islands). It was quite a culture shock. But after living in the Big City, as well as the laid-back island lifestyle, I was ready to settle down. Englewood provides a “happy medium” in terms of the pace and lifestyle. I grew up in a small town, and the library was literally and figuratively my home away from home. I loved that the local librarians knew me by name, and who my favorite authors were, and what books I liked to read. I’ve always found joy in reading, and I have a deep love for books—as a child, books were like stepping into another world, and I’ve carried that feeling throughout my life. I look forward to bringing that home away from home feeling to Elsie Quirk Library.
Where were you raised?
I was raised in Connecticut, but went to college in the Hudson Valley of New York State. Once I graduated, I couldn’t get down to the city fast enough. I just had this feeling that my “real life” would start once I moved to New York City. As much as I loved living in the city, I strongly disliked winter and snow, which is why my traveling soul kept searching for a place to call home. Hello, Englewood!
What would you like to share about your family?
My lifetime partner is my husband, Christopher. We got married in June, on beautiful Trunk Bay Beach, on St. John in the Virgin Islands.
What are your initial impressions of Englewood?
My first impression is that it’s a close-knit community, much like how and where I grew up, but with lots more sunshine, and no snow! In my 2.5 months here, everyone has been so welcoming and friendly, which I appreciate so much. I appreciate the sun, sand, and salt in the air. I love going to the Englewood Farmer’s Market every Thursday, and by attending community events and introducing myself to people whenever I’m not at Elsie Quirk, I hope to become a familiar face in town. I’m used to being known as “the Library Lady.”
What are the primary library services?
We have so many free services, events and programs for all ages and interests. We have 40 Carrots: Partners in Play, Story Time (also in Spanish), Family Storytime, Reading Buddies, LEGO Club, a Read with the Dogs Program, and numerous arts and craft events for babies, toddlers, and children; Teen Game Night, Book Discussion, a Teen Advisory Board, and S.T.E.A.M. Programs for young adults.
For adults, we offer Computer Classes, such as “iPads for Beginners” and “Windows Laptops for Beginners,” “Tech Time: One-On-One Help,” Monday Night Movies, Book Clubs, the Great Decisions Group, Gardening Clubs and Plant Clinic programs, a Spanish Study Group and a French Conversation Group, a Knitting Group, the Englewood Computer Club and Englewood Camera Club, in addition to guest speakers and lectures, music and arts performances, and the Suncoast Writers Guild.
We also offer services such as an AARP Tax-Aide program, Health Insurance Enrollment Assistance, “Resume Help” Assistance, Flood Zone Workshops, and we have a designated computer station in the library for registering for Disaster Assistance (i.e., FEMA).
Who was Elsie Quirk?
On June 15, 1962 the Elsie Quirk Public Library was officially opened to the public. It was a tiny, one room building situated on Cocoanut Avenue. Elsie and Wellington Quirk, who donated a plot of land and ten thousand dollars to begin the project, would not recognize the library today. The original building offered space for 25 readers. Over the years, Elsie Quirk Library has undergone five expansions and a recent interior renovation in 2010.
In 1995, Sarasota County acquired additional lots to provide an entrance on Dearborn Street, the historical downtown section of Englewood. This offered additional parking and storm water retention ponds. The original library provided 3,500 books and was 1,400 square feet in size. After the fifth expansion in 2002, the library grew to 16,807 square feet. Today, the library is a vital part of the Englewood community. It offers a wide variety of recreational and research materials, online resources, meeting space, Wi-Fi and public computers, programs for all ages and a friendly, helpful staff.
What can you share about the Friends of Elsie Quirk?
The Friends of Elsie Quirk formed in 1961. There were no free public libraries in Sarasota County at the time. Members of the Friends group, Mrs. Leah Lasbury and Mrs. Floyd Potter, began negotiating with Sarasota County Commissioners for money to help cover the operating expenses. They attended County Commission meetings weekly for several months. Because of their efforts, Elsie Quirk was the first library to receive County funds to partially fund its daily operations. This led to County support of library services and the formation of the Sarasota County Library Advisory Board.
Today, The Friends of the Elsie Quirk Library are a dedicated group of volunteers that are an integral part of the library. They work together with library staff to provide quality programming throughout the year for all ages. The Friends enhance the programs and operations of the library by encouraging community support and funding for materials and programs that are not provided for in the library’s regular budget. They do this through membership funds, fundraising efforts and bookstore revenues.
As a commemoration of the Library’s 50-Year Anniversary in 2012, the Friends of Elsie Quirk Library designed and created the library’s Golden Reading Garden. It has a lovely brick paver path that winds around the northwest portion of the library property. Along the path are numerous plants, flowers and trees that are maintained by the Friends Garden Committee volunteers. There are benches and a gazebo for folks to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
How did you get involved with library management?
I began my career in librarianship with The New York Public Library (NYPL) in 2005. I was hired as a Library Assistant and, within five years, I was promoted to Library Manager of my own branch in Manhattan’s Financial District (three blocks north of Ground Zero). I was the recipient of the Irene Diamond Scholarship, a prestigious award given to three NYPL employees each year who are enrolled in a Master of Science in Library and Information Science Program. I enjoy helping people, and I like being a part of a motivated, collaborative team. I feel fortunate to be a part of the Elsie Quirk team.
What are some of the current priorities for the library?
I would say that our priorities are to continue to offer library patrons excellent customer service, interesting and engaging programs and events, to provide local resources and services that benefit Englewood residents and our “visiting locals,” and for Elsie Quirk Public Library to serve as the “Community Living Room,” a place that you’d want to call home.
Amie, what do you enjoy about your work and what are a few of your favorite authors or books?
My favorite thing about what I do is helping people. Every person who comes in the library doors wants information, answers to questions, recommendations for a good book or movie, a computer or help understanding technology, or just a comfortable place to hang out for a bit. I strive to ensure that patrons have a positive experience.
I have many favorite books and authors. When we moved to Florida, I had 16 boxes of books shipped here. Here are just a few of my favorites – in alphabetical order, of course! Margaret Atwood, Judy Blume, Bill Bryson, Michael Chabon, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jared Diamond, Joan Didion, Antonia Fraser, Neil Gaiman, Pete Hamill, Amy Hempel, Alice Hoffman, John Irving, Mary Karr, Barbara Kingsolver, Jhumpa Lahiri, George R.R. Martin, Amistad Maupin, Susan Minot, Haruki Murakami, Mary Oliver, J.K. Rowling, Simon Schama, David Sedaris, Donna Tartt, Alison Weir, Meg Wolitzer, Howard Zinn, and every title by Stephen King.