Third time's the charm for Bamberg library
Award-winning librarian, Karen Lazzeri displays bugs created by children that attended the 2008 Summer Reading Program at U.S. Army Garrison Bamberg, Germany. The bugs were used to decorate Lazzeri's own Volkswagen "Super Bug" on the final day of the "Catch the Reading Bug" program.

BAMBERG, Germany - The-third-time-is-the-charm expression usually refers to someone finally accomplishing a goal after repeated tries - along with the joy that comes with it.

For Karen Lazzeri, winning for the third time in a row is more charming than the first. Why' Because while it's exciting to win anything initially, repeatedly being named the Army's top library for a medium-size post is a real challenge. You have to raise the bar and expect more of yourself.

Lazzeri and her staff at the Bamberg Community Library started their winning streak of Army Recreation Award library titles in 2006. To continuing doing so this year, Lazzeri had to show judges how events held at her library benefited U.S Army Garrison Bamberg as a whole.

Labeling herself a library rat as a shy youth, Lazzeri said she always visited her hometown library because she felt safe there. Obviously, that turned into a lifetime of love for libraries and books - but Lazzeri doesn't believe a library today should be only about books. She still sees it as the place she remembers as a child: a safe haven for those who want to hang out and relax, read a book, surf the internet or meet with friends. Moreover, it should be the place everyone wants to visit.

But don't think Lazzeri is the stereotypical librarian who shushes you for being a little too loud. She's a very active person who realizes activity often begets noise.

To make the library into the place where everyone wants to be, Lazzeri and her staff constantly search for ways to attract patrons. For example, last year they organized "Operation Scrap Book Support," which brought families together at the library to create scrapbooks for loved ones downrange.

Another major part of Lazzeri's success comes from her efforts to partner with other Morale, Welfare and Recreation departments and various installation programs. By partnering with groups like the community theater and School Age Services, the library increases its number of visitors.

Other activities include supporting the Warrior Transition Unit. Monthly, the library staff supplies lunch for injured Soldiers along with arranging energizing activities. Scheduled events range from off-post tours to meals with guest speakers discussing medical care. The goal: providing Soldiers and their families with requested resources and information.

For the library overall, with ever-advancing technology, access to books and written information has progressed as well. In the past, such media was available via audio tapes - now it's all offered digitally (compact discs and computer audio files). As a result, many libraries have to choose whether to stay with traditional books, which limits customer service, or to grow with technology and welcoming the electronic age.

Lazzeri and her staff - Wilson Delahoz, Willie Gore, Andrea Wittkampf, and Leonard Kuplinski - believe wholeheartedly that moving forward is the only way the library can succeed.

Accordingly, they have embraced technology in some very non-traditional ways. For instance, the Bamberg library contains the usual book shelves throughout, but it also offers digital video discs, audio books and video games; their goal is not just to get people reading, it is to encourage visitation overall. And once people do come through the library's front doors, Lazzeri said, they begin browsing until they find an item - a book or a video - for check out.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16