Video by CAITIE MCMEKIN | Multimedia Editor
Scott Ekstrom takes charge of Library
Story by ABE KENMORE | Staff Writer
The Smith Memorial Library at Chautauqua Institution has a new director — and a new nickname.
“I don’t want to overplay it; I just kind of liked the sound of the ‘The Smith,’ ” said Scott Ekstrom, the new head of the library. “It has an air of distinction about it, but yet is accessible.”
In addition to the new nickname, Ekstrom brings five years of prior experience working with Chautauqua readers at the bookstore.
“In this role [at the library], I have an opportunity to engage a little more deeply with patrons, and for discussing books and getting feedback from them,” Ekstrom said.
Prior to coming to Chautauqua, Ekstrom worked in theater, at faith-based not-for-profits and as an English teacher — experiences that have all been useful at the Institution.
“Being part of the education department in my role here is fantastic, and teaching is something that’s always a part of me in the way I train staff and relate to patrons,” Ekstrom said.
For this year, Ekstrom is not planning to make any radical changes to the Smith.
“In my freshman year in this position, it’s a learning position for sure, and I’m happy to continue the great work that my predecessors have done,” he said. “There are so many things that are so right about this library, I’m just thrilled to continue that.”
Minor changes he has implemented include adding a few computers, updating software and adding more laptop work stations.
Besides updating the electronics, Ekstrom has already had a chance to organize some programming, as the Smith is one of the few Institution venues that is open all year long. In April, the library partnered with English majors from SUNY Fredonia for a Big Read program, which brought in 60 people.
The first programming of the summer season, a CLSC Young Readers event, will take place at 4:15 p.m. today in the library, and there will be several visits from authors over the summer.
Besides programming, the Smith is a full member of the county library system, which allows Chautauquans to request books from other local libraries or use the online resources to download e-books.
“Today’s reader reads in a variety of formats,” Ekstrom said. “So your typical reader has a Kindle or an iPad and gets some things on that, but also likes to borrow some print books, and likes to buy some books from the bookstore.”
On the Chautauqua grounds, where there are numerous places to read a book, Ekstrom tried to think of his favorite reading spots.
“Well, I’d love to say the library, although I don’t get much of a chance to sit and read while I’m working, so I’d have to say down by the lake,” he said. “Miller Park area is a favorite place for me to go to lunch and read a little bit.”
If Chautauquans are looking for a place to get some work done or a good book recommendation, Ekstrom welcomes them to stop by the library.
“I’m just excited to be here, and get to know more Chautauquans,” Ekstrom said. “I hope they’ll come to the library and say hello.”