New library director brings lot to table for St. John Parish

Published 12:13 am Saturday, November 21, 2015

LAPLACE — With her love of everything library and the joy she has felt from being welcomed by the community and officials, Natalie Beam is excited to be the new St. John the Baptist Public Library director.

Kearston Poché, left, shares a laugh with new Library Director Natalie Beam.

Kearston Poché, left, shares a laugh with new Library Director Natalie Beam.

Beam started her position locally Sept. 8.

Before taking the job, Beam worked for a year at Hancock County Public Library in St. Louis, Miss., where she was the youth services director.

Beam, trying to further her career, applied for the director position in St. John.

“It was time to be up the ladder a little bit,” she said. “I put feelers out for assistant director and director positions just to see what was available. I’ve been in the library business for about 15 years now, I’ve always been able to progress in my career.”

Kearston Poché, who works in public relations for the library system, said Beam is doing a good job as director.

“I think she is great,” Poché said. “She brings a lot to the table.”

Library associate Lisa Poncia hasn’t spent much time with Beam but agrees she is doing a good job.

“She has a lot of great ideas,” Poncia said.

“Without a library director, it’s like a speedboat without a steering wheel. The name is fitting because she directs us, she gives us a direction and we work toward it. She sets goals, and we work toward them. It’s a better way to work. She is very innovative and very 21st century. She is going to bring a lot more ideas and open up a lot more avenues for us.”

Beam’s first impression with St. John libraries was impressive, adding she loved them.

“They are beautiful buildings with beautiful interiors,” she said. “They have wonderful collections for the public.”

Since accepting the job and becoming familiar with the community and system, Beam is full of positives.

“The library system is great,” she said. “The community is totally supportive, a library is doing its job when you have the support of the community. Everything seems to be running well.

“Having been here a couple of months I’ve noticed that I really want to focus on making sure the community knows that we are evolving to go with the changes and needs of our community.”

Beam is speaking in terms of electronics.

“People are using Kindles and reading off of their computers more, and the library supports that,” Beam said. “We just need to get out there in the community and explain how things work and let them know how to use our resources. For me, one thing I love about my position is that the library is constantly evolving.”

With a library card, Beam said residents can borrow books for their e-readers instead of buying them from places like Amazon.

The director said, “this isn’t the same library that you had as a child.”

Since taking the job, Beam is making it her mission to reach the community by showing them how their library system is evolving to meet their needs.

“I’ve hired an outreach children’s librarian, who today is doing a parent workshop at a head start,” she said.“I’m mobilizing my team, through retirements and vacancies. I’ve hired a team to come in. I said these are what the priorities are, so we are bringing the library out to the community instead of just waiting for people to walk in. I think you are going to see the library more visible. You’re going to be seeing us interacting with different organizations like the Lions Club, Rotary and the Chamber. We are going to be in the schools and in after-school programs and in pre-schools and head starts.”

The library system in St. John is also pumping up their programing.

“We’re focusing on programing in the library that is going to attract different generations and interest groups,” she said. “That will be taking off in January. I’m looking forward to the way the public responds. We want to be able to offer them more.”

By Raquel Derganz Baker