There’s a new face at the South Hill Pierce County Library who’s eager to meet members of the community.
Alice Darnton, 30, started in November as the new South Hill Library branch manager, and she hopes to be a friendly face around the area.
“A goal for me is to get myself into the community so that they get to know me... I’m the face of the library — if I’m fun then the library’s fun, right?” Darnton said.
A goal for me is to get myself into the community so that they get to know me... I’m the face of the library — if I’m fun then the library’s fun, right?
Alice Darnton, Pierce County South Hill Library branch manager
“I’m really confident about her coming on board. She’s a really great addition to the team,” assistant branch supervisor Sharon Nichols said. “I’m just excited about having her here and where we’re going to go as a team with her as a leader.”
Darnton grew up in Enumclaw and Anacortes and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Western Washington University in 2006. In 2010, she graduated from the University of British Columbia with a masters degree in library and information science. She now lives in Tacoma.
“I decided when I was a teenager I wanted to be a librarian,” Darnton said. “I loved books and reading especially.”
But from working at libraries, Darnton learned that being a librarian wasn’t just about books — there’s a lot of teaching involved.
“I discovered that I actually just really loved helping people so that’s what got me excited about wanting to be a librarian,” she said.
I discovered that I actually just really loved helping people so that’s what got me excited about wanting to be a librarian.
Before coming to Pierce County Library System, Darnton worked at a public library in McMinnville, Oregon.
South Hill is quite the transition.
“(South Hill) is a community that has formed organically and doesn’t have a centralized city feel,” Darnton said. “Creating a sense of community without a sense of geographical unity is a challenge but that’s something that I’m really wanting to work on not just this year, but over the long term.”
Before the new year, Darnton and other library staff came together to discuss goals for 2018. Not only do they want to inform patrons and community members of the resources the library offers, but they want to bring in more patrons.
In 2017, 33,211 patrons used the library, a 5,000 decrease from the 37,426 in 2016.
In 2017, 33,211 patrons used the library, a 5,000-person decrease from the 37,426 in 2016. Last year, the library also saw about 4,000 new library patrons who signed up for library cards.
The library wants to take advantage of the growth happening in South Hill, Darnton said. The population in Pierce County has grown 16 percent between 2006 and 2018, and 60,000 people are expected to move into unincorporated Pierce County areas such as South Hill between now and 2030.
“I hope that South Hill can become known as an important hub to the South Hill community and that we’re able to bring more people in as time goes on,” Darnton said.
The library system has seen a 700 percent increase in participation in events and classes within the library system since 2006. This year, the South Hill Library is starting “A Year of Music,” which involves one quarterly event or presentation throughout the year that ties into something else that’s happening in the library system. It could involve local bands, orchestras and musicians.
700 percent increase in participation in Pierce County Library system events and classes between 2006 and 2018
The events aren’t finalized yet, but Darnton, a violin player since she was 10 years old, looks forward to sharing them when they are.
“My hope is that the branch goals excite my staff, excite the community and also give me an opportunity to make some connections that would interest me,” she said.
Darnton encourages community members to stop by and say hello.
“(Darnton)’s made a start and I expect that she’s going to be a face of South Hill for some time to come,” Pierce County Library customer experience manager Judy Nelson said.