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Music, Yoga and Vegan Food at Your Local Library?

By Rebecca Wicks
Ventura Breeze
Jan. 23, 2013

Sara Roberts, the new head librarian at E. P. Foster Library is private about her personal life. About all she’ll disclose to me is that she likes the beach and being outdoors and eats lunch about once a week at Nature’s Grill. She confirms that her and her husband reside in Ventura. Crossing the nation from the state of Georgia for the job, she tells me how the opening of the senior librarian position was serendipitous.

“I had a real vision of where I wanted to be,” said Roberts of her job search, which ultimately landed her in Ventura. “I wanted to be at a library that was in a downtown.”

Before becoming a librarian Roberts thought her future lay in teaching.

“I was teaching high school while I was getting my masters degree in teaching,” explained Roberts. “And, by the time I finished I had decided I never wanted to [teach] again.’

So, Roberts changed course and went back to school once more to obtain her masters degree in library sciences from the University of Alabama. After brief stints in Tennessee and San Diego, Roberts found her way up the coast to Ventura.

Roberts has only been here since November. She didn’t live through the drama surrounding the closing of the H.P. Wright library. She doesn’t know much about the city’s probe into learning more about the possible benefits of leaving the county library system — and, maybe it’s for the better. She isn’t tainted. She isn’t discouraged. In fact, she is pursuing change, and she’s doing it fairly aggressively. She sees the library’s future role as more than it is today.

“I see the library as a community center,” said Roberts. “I see it as a place to learn, change — all those great things you can do at the library.”

Roberts has already started reaching out to the community and its businesses to create some of the programs she plans on introducing this year.

“Most of the ideas have come from the people of the community,” admitted Roberts.

Roberts goes on to describe a bevy of new activities including a music series that will take place the second Sunday of the month from 2-4 p.m. Free and open to the public, the bands will play in the Topping Room which seats approximately 120. The room, which is part of the library building, has its own entrance just west of the library’s main entrance on Main Street.

“We’ll have a little of everything including classical, country, classic rock and kids bands — some consisting of kids and those for kids,” said Roberts.

Many of the bands Roberts has communicated with have asked her if its okay if they are kind of loud.

“I keep saying ‘of course’ when they ask me that,” said Roberts whose intention is clearly not centered on creating a traditionally quiet environment.

Roberts will also be introducing a Wednesday yoga program in mid-February where parents will be able to strike a pose while their children are entertained nearby with story time. The program will be for children 4 and up and take place from 3:30-4 p.m. Roberts is also entertaining the idea of having different groups meet at the library on a regular basis.

“Maybe it’s a Vegan food group program, maybe it’s a meeting about the history of the city,” said Roberts. “Whatever the community wants.”

“I want to create programs that are focused on the long term, that will keep fostering the community,” Roberts said and then giggled when she realized the pun.

“I want to create partnerships to promote what we have here,” said Roberts. “I feel like there is a lot of possibility here and people seemed open to it which goes to show how the community helps the community.”