May 24, 2023

New director: Shafer begins top role at Great Bend Public Library

Posted May 24, 2023 12:00 PM
New Great Bend Public Library Director Maribeth Shafer. 
New Great Bend Public Library Director Maribeth Shafer. 

Great Bend Post

Most times, a promotion means a change in scenery. At least in buildings. That will not be the case for new Great Bend Public Library Director Maribeth Shafer. After spending 10 years with the Central Kansas Library System, Shafer began her new job as the library director Monday. She's ready to keep the library an active part of the community.

"I think a good, vibrant library reflects a good, vibrant community," she said. "There's not a lot of activities, social things for adults, young adults, mid-life adults, older adults, but a library can offer all sorts of programming for all ages."

Shafer grew up in Olsburg, 22 miles north of Manhattan. She studied English as an undergrad at McPherson College, then earned her master's in library science at Emporia State University. She put her education to use back home at the Pottawatomie Wabaunsee Regional Library.

"I got to do a little bit of everything, so then when I applied for the IT job at Central Kansas Library System I was able to move out here," Shafer said.

Shafer started with CKLS in 2010, working her way up to assistant director of IT for the library system that assists more than 50 libraries in 17 counties. She will go from working with other librarians to working with the public, and from working in a state entity to a city one.

"With the transition with administration at the city, that's going to be something we hope to continue to build and keep strong," Shafer said. "And working with the community; finding out what those needs are, where our community members want to see services, where we haven't met those services yet, where we're doing really great and want to sustain those."

The Great Bend Public Library offers services for all ages but has a tradition of children's and preteen programming. Shafer wants to continue to grow those programs.

"There's a lot of early-childhood literacy stuff we can do, there's STEM stuff we can do, but we do it in a play format," she said. "It makes that learning fun. For kids that maybe struggle in school, this might be a fun way for them to get interested in something that may lead to a career or just a lifelong interest."