Shane Pipinos-Gausepohl says he initially wasn’t sure he wanted the job of library manager.
He had been working as a full-time cataloger for two years when his predecessor Teena Capshaw died, suddenly making the position available. Worried that someone new may not share “our vision” of what the library could be, Pipinos-Gausepohl decided to throw his hat into the ring.
“If I get it, good. If I don’t, I’ll still be here,” he said.
Two years into his job, Pipinos-Gausepohl realizes that as the Amazon Kindle and other e-readers become more popular, the Del Norte County Library has to “think outside of the book.”
The library should be more of a community hub, Pipinos-Gausepohl says. The book isn’t going away, but in the two years he has been manager, there have been more community events like interactive movie nights. Youngsters can take part in a Lego club and learn how to knit in addition to participating in a traditional story time.
Pipinos-Gausepohl is also in the process of expanding the library’s selection reading materials for young adults, patrons ages 13-20. He said he is in the process of planning a ComiCon for Del Norte County, an event that would consist of a series of workshops and activities geared around comic books, books and movies.
Pipinos-Gausepohl said though it’s in the planning stage — he said he can’t use the official ComiCon moniker — his vision is this event will encompass the entire downtown Crescent Crescent City area and ultimately encourage young adults to volunteer for the library.
“I think our library is not really set up to encourage that demographic,” Pipinos-Gausepohl said of the young adult segment of the population, adding that other libraries have entire rooms or floors set aside for teenagers. “I think hopefully at some time in the near future we kind of figure out what we’re going to do as far as staying in this building or expanding this building or moving to a different building. We can have a plan together to create spaces for the different demographics.”
Though he became a full-time employee for the library in 2014, Pipinos-Gausepohl’s experience dates back to 2008 when he earned his GED at age 22 through Del Norte Reads, the library’s literacy program. That took him three months, then he began volunteering for the program.
Eventually, then-literacy coordinator Kelley Nolan encouraged Pipinos-Gausepohl to work for Del Norte Reads via the AmeriCorp program, a position he was in for about a year until it lost funding. In 2011, Pipinos-Gausepohl transitioned to the library as a cataloger, a role he held until he took over the library manager position in December 2016.
Since then the number of events and activities the library has held have expanded. One of its first big events, An Evening At Hogwarts drew 85 people even though it was postponed due to the weather, Pipinos-Gausepohl said. The second, Revenge of the 5th, drew 110 people including a Star Wars costume group called the 501 First Legion, he said.
Other local events include a Biketopia over the summer and a harp concert during the holidays, said Sierra Schenck, chair of the library board of directors.
“We’re constantly doing new activities, new events and having tons of support and energy behind it,” she said. “Not only from the community, but from staff and other organizations. We’re really excited about it.”
Schenck said the library board has been working on a strategic plan for the past year with each board member focusing on specific tasks. This plan includes reaching out to the community and developing activities for young adults or bike and music enthusiasts, she said.
ComiCon, though it’s currently in its infancy stage, is one of those events, Schenck said. The library has partnered with Del Norte High School’s cosplay club and 3D printing clubs as they continue to plan the event, which is about eight months out still, she said. Adults have also offered their enthusiastic support, she said.
“Everyone’s at the table,” Schenck said. “Teenagers to older adults. And everyone’s just excited and hugely supportive. It’s going to be this huge downtown event, not only the library.”
The library is also seeing more items being checked out from 34,252 in 2014 to 51,633 last year, according to Pipinos-Gausepohl These include books, music, DVDs and audiobooks as well as Chromebooks, he said.
In future, Pipinos-Gausepohl said he sees the library becoming a place for people to access services they might not have known existed. He mentioned that the library may get a 3D printer as a service for people. Pipinos-Gausepohl said he does envision the library changing its look.
“Depending on where we go as in are we going to remodel the existing building...” he said, adding that the library board is still discussing the future of the building. “I feel like we’ve had a pretty good relationship with the downtown area and I don’t really want to lose that. To me, I feel like the library location should be downtown ‘cause that’s where tourists go and we have those Tesla charging stations in the parking lot too. It’s like recharge your car, recharge your brain.”
Schenck said whether the library remains in its current location is still something the board is discussing.
Meanwhile, with eight employees and five volunteers, Pipinos-Gausepohl said more help is needed, especially at the Smith River branch.
For more information about the library, visit www.delnortecountylibrary.org or call (707) 464-9793.
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org .