By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
PICAYUNE — Carol Phares has been selected as the new head librarian for the Pearl River County Library System by the board of Margaret Read Crosby Memorial Library. She also will be head librarian of the Crosby Memorial Library in Picayune. These two libraries make up the Pearl River County System Phares replaces Linda Tufaro who is retiring on June 30. Phares previously was Tufaro’s assistant. Phares, of McNeill, has been with the library for 14 years and has followed in Tufaro’s career path since her employment. “I went back to school and got my Masters of Librarian Information Science, after obtaining by B.A. in English to teach high school. I was not cut out for the classroom but wanted to work in a school. I came and applied at this library for experience; I met Linda and have been here ever since,” said Phares. She entered the library system as Children’s Librarian. She has followed in Tufaro’s footsteps ever since. “Public libraries are wonderful,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed my position as Children’s Librarian — working with the teenagers has been a highlight throughout my years. They are a cool group of people. “I started the Teen Corner, a Young Adult section, specifically for the teens who would come and hang out after school. Through this I found a core group of them who came and wanted to do something while they were here. They would write, edit, produce and perform puppet plays for younger children. This has continued to grow and in addition to this, we also offer Summer Reading Programs each year. This is a big thing. We also have “story time” during the year and we now have a lady who helps with that.” “Over the last few years, people have been put in place to continue on with the current programs and the library can continue to build on them as they go forward,” said Phares. When asked about the system’s future, Phares said, “This is the exciting part. Because of budget and staff cuts this past year, we have been still in the water, but I am going to stir the water again. I want to move us into 21st century. Linda has done a wonderful job of getting us to this point, but we are now ready to launch and grow the social media. We are on Facebook, on Twitter, (we) have QR codes on our signs. “The library is going to be retooling. If you think about a few years ago and wanted to find a job, raise goats, or find out about gardening ... you would go to the library. Now you get the information online and fiction through Kindle or Nook. “Our job is to let the public know we are not dinosaurs. We are more like the Ford company, with the original car, which has morphed into something incredible and relevant for today. An example of this is Google returns hundreds of links when you search for something. Maybe they are relevant to what you are looking for, and maybe they are not. A reference librarian will bring you to the right answer. She will bring it back with a smile, adding the human element. “Being critical in your reading is even more true now than ever. Anyone can set up a website and say anything. Facebook is even worse. Librarians are trained to have that critical eye and get the right answer. “You do not have to sift through possible inaccurate or non-relevant information at the library. A librarian can tell you if it is the right answer because she has viewed it with a critical eye. Anyone can publish anything, on the Internet, and with the correct formula get it to show up in results. A librarian buffers you from that. “If you are running a business and do not understand how state taxes are formulated, you can come to the library and not have to muddle through the website on your own.” Phares says the internet is a great place to check movie times or information that doesn’t need much interpretation. “Just as someone could look up medical results online and possibly come up with the right diagnosis, it is still recommended they go to their physician for an official diagnosis and treatment. The physician analogy is true for information gathering on more complex subjects, then turning to the local librarian. A little right can turn into a lot of wrong, at the end of the day,” she continued. “As far as fiction goes, we are still lend books in many formats, and are looking into e-books. There has been a war of formatting between libraries and e-books. It is an expensive endeavor to get into and continue each year, especially getting current best sellers as opposed to older publications. This is a way to go possibly in the future, but right now we must focus on getting doors back open. We are at a low point but it is only up from here. “In order for this to happen, the public must understand that we are relevant and what we actually do here. The library should be a center for life-long learning. It always has been, and as we retool, it will continue to be. That mission has not stopped. This is an exciting time for us because we are the transition team. It is a huge responsibility, but we are dedicated — passionate — about what we do and up for the job,” said Phares. Asked how she felt about the appointment of Phares to the position she held for so long, Tufaro said, “It is truly bittersweet; I was faced with a heartbreaking decision 14 years ago — if I could keep my children’s program going and handle the paperwork and other responsibilities necessary for my position. Now, 14 years later, I was again faced with a heartbreaking decision, as I knew it was time to retire ... just as Carol Phares was my answer then, she was my solution now as well. I could not imagine anyone else stepping up to head this library program but her,” said Tufaro.