After more than three decades, one of the most recognizable figures to young readers in Livingston County is retiring.
Since 1980, Judith Cunning Shoot has served as the children's librarian at the Livingston County Library in Chillicothe. Shoot is only the third person to hold that position. She said her love of reading was instilled at a young age.
"I grew up in a family that loved books," Shoot said. "We were all readers, and the idea of sharing stories with kids has been fun."
Every Wednesday morning during the months of June and July, Shoot shares that passion with a packed library of young readers during the Summer Reading Program.
"We run 50 to 70 kids each Wednesday morning," Shoot said. "When you're actually standing in front of them, it's a little like a performance because you've got those eyes on you. It's a challenge to keep them involved and interested. I try to choose books that will be fun for kids of all ages and even their parents, too."
Many of the adults who now bring their young ones to the children's library were once patrons themselves. Shoot said she loves seeing the multiple generations of readers she has served over the years continue to bring their children to the library.
"That's very rewarding," Shoot explained. "When I have a parent tell me they remember me reading when they were little, that's just great."
Shoot said each reader has his or her own list of likes and dislikes, and something that may have been popular in 1980 may not interest readers in 2013. On the other hand, some books never get old.
"A book like 'Charlotte's Web' is still popular," Shoot said. "The thing about children's classics are the fact that you keep having a new group of 10-year-olds who want to read that book. Adults, the period of time where people are between 20 and 80, will rarely pick up and read it again. A lot of times, an adult book will go out of print. For children's books, we still need a new copy of Curious George and a new copy of 'Where The Wild Things Are.'"
Technology has changed dramatically in the 33 years Shoot has served as children's librarian. However, Shoot said the library's dedication in adapting to new technologies has never wavered.
"We've done a good job, I believe, of keeping up with the media as things have gone on, such as the changes in technology," Shoot explained. "When I first came, of course, there was no such thing as a video. We've started buying these things. We moved from the video to the DVD. CD books were huge, and then we moved on to all kinds of e-readers and downloadable things. I think that that probably has been the most interesting thing to watch as it's happened; Just the technological advances and how the library has really been on the cutting edge of things and making these available."
Page 2 of 2 - Shoot's last day at the library is Wednesday, July 31. A public reception will be held from 1-5 p.m. on Friday, July 19, in the Children's Library at the Livingston County Library. Shoot said one of the many strengths of the library has been the community support it has received from the county.
"We have a library to be really proud of," Shoot said. "We've had funding for a good collection. I've been able to buy the things I wanted for the kids. I just think Livingston County is a spectacular, far-seeing kind of place that they think it's important. The people really come through, even when other counties were not passing levies and bonds."
Shoot plans to remain in the area and continue to travel and read, two passions she'd had throughout her life.