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Family ready for new adventure

Going to Alaska is something Liz Perry and husband Jesse had always envisioned. They just couldn’t quite figure out how – and if — they’d end up there. Now, they have the answer.

Perry’s husband, who is pastor at Farmington Presbyterian Church, recently answered the call to pastor a church in Juneau.

“The opportunity presented itself,” says Perry. Now, she and husband Jesse, along with 11-year-old son Joel, will transport themselves and their belongings to Juneau, Ala., in early August.

One of the things Perry is most excited about is the weather. “They get lots of snow,” she says, “and it’s not quite as cold or hot as this area can get.” Juneau is in the maritime climate, surrounded by a national forest. It’s also extreme. During winter months residents might get five to six hours of daylight. Summer months are similar, with usually a maximum of five to six hours of darkness, which is more dusk-like. Traveling in Alaska can also be quite an adventure. Juneau is not accessible by road. Instead, residents must travel by boat or plane. Perry and her family will travel to Alaska, then ferry for 24 hours into Juneau.

With so much rugged land in Alaksa, there are plenty of hiking trails, which Perry says doesn’t bother her because she loves to hike.

Her family is equally as excited about the new adventure, particularly their son. “Joel is very excited because he knows this is going to be a great adventure,” she says. “He’s anxious and ready to go.”

The Perrys have lived in Farmington for two years. During their time here Perry served as director of the Farmington Public Library. From meeting and working with the patrons to developing the library’s collections, Perry has thoroughly enjoyed her time in the community.

As the library director, she’s proud to have been a part of several positive changes implemented at the facility. “I’ve helped our staff with ways to streamline our operations,” she says, referring to getting rid of redundant processes. She’s also been instrumental in establishing and following the library policy to ensure all patrons are treated equally. The third, and ongoing, task Perry has maintained is consistently working with both the library staff and patrons to update the collections. Because of their combined efforts, the library now boasts 42,000 items and sees about 400 patrons a day from Farmington and St. Francois and adjacent counties.

When Perry took over the job as director of the library one particular thing she noted that the library’s collection was missing was classics by American authors for children and adults. Since then, Perry and staff have added classics for both adults and children, increased the kids’ nonfiction collection, and purchased a GED video collection with study guides using grant money. The staff’s most recent success is notification that they will receive the Gates Foundation grant which will allow them to replace some of the library’s computers. They will have eight weeks to implement the new computers through the grant, with the additions completed in August and September.

Perry credits the Farmington City Council and the patrons for understanding the importance of a library. “It’s the hub of a community,” she insists, “and the council has been generous in helping us maintain updating our materials, technology, etc.” She says that has been the case since she became director of the library. “It’s been gratifying that both the council and the community understand the importance of the library.”

Perry says she has greatly enjoyed working with the library staff, who she considers “one of the best.”

“There is almost no turnover here,” she points out. “They have a lot of experience and know the patrons.”

One thing Perry will miss is the updating of the building. “The community understands the need for more space,” she says, “and I’m sorry I’ll be missing out on that.” The city council is now in the early stages of deciding where to relocate the Farmington Public Library in the future, due to its continued growth and need for more space.

As for the library, Perry isn’t nervous about leaving. “It’s in good hands.”

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