“To be honest, when I think of the word ‘geek,’ the first images that pop into my head take me back to my high school days,” Hunt said. “I remember individuals who were targets for a weekly swirly.”
He added his thoughts also centered on members of the AV club and those individuals with pocket protectors.
“Tonight, we will give a new, cool connotation to the word ‘geek,’” Hunt promised the small crowd.
He introduced the invited guests, including Bradley County Commissioner Jeff Morelock, to the “Geek the Library” national campaign.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Online Computer Library Center and the Tennessee State Library and Archives collaborated to create the campaign.
A total of 116 libraries in Tennessee have joined more than 1,300 other libraries in 48 states. The campaign is an effort to increase awareness of libraries and the resources each offers.
Portraits decorated the library’s community room. Each held the smiling face of either a library worker or patron. Words over the faces proudly proclaimed what each person “geeked.”
One captured a small girl with a large, toothy smile spread across her face. Above her tilted head was the caption, “I geek princesses.” Another photo of a librarian with a quizzical expression on her face said, “I geek gardens.”
Hunt explained the interests, which many people “geek” out about, can be further developed through resources at the library.
According to the official “Geek the Library” website, public libraries offer a return on investment, a community center, a place of possibilities, a personal touch, access for all and job center services.
The “Geek the Library” Facebook page claimed the end goal is to “highlight the vital role of public libraries and raise awareness about the critical funding issues” faced by the public institutions across the county.
A three-phase program is in place for the libraries: create awareness, generate engagement and encourage action.
The Cleveland Bradley County Public Library kicked off phase one of the three-part plan with a bang Friday night. Guests ate sweet treats while Hunt outlined the goal.
“What we want to do as the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library is to help people connect what they are passionate about to the wonderful resources available through the library,” Hunt said. “As a result of this year-long program, you will see the library represented out-and-about the community at different events.”
He said community residents might be surprised to see the library represented at local events, like fairs or festivals.
Traditional and non-traditional users alike will be targeted in the coming year. The library plans to encourage both parties to discover all of the resources and services available at the Cleveland Bradley County library.
Director of Children’s Services Keisha Parks expressed her eagerness to reach non-traditional users.
“We want to make sure they know our faces. We want to make sure they know [the library] is a safe [and exciting] place to come,” Parks said. “And it is all free.”
Commissioner Morelock encouraged the community to visit the local library.
“We do have a wonderful library here. It has a lot of resources here,” Morelock said. “The city and county governments have put a lot of money into it.”
Morelock’s wife, Kathy, agreed and pointed out the meeting rooms offered at the library.
Added Morelock, “I think it would be great for [the community] to utilize what is here. I think it would be great for people to invest in it, but they don’t have to do that. Just come out and utilize what we have. It is great.”
More information on the campaign can be found at geekthelibrary.org. For future events and resources at the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library, visit clevelandlibrary.org.