Julie Standish felt her career and life came full circle when she recently returned to Athens.
Standish, the new Athens branch manager for the Athens County Public Libraries, was born in Athens and had her sights set on returning to her hometown. She was able to do so when a position at the branch opened up.
“I actually used to come here all the time when I was in college — more than I would go to Alden (Library),” Standish, who graduated from Ohio University in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in interpersonal communications, said. “I felt like I was the only college student in this building. You know, when you’re in college, you’re surrounded by college students all the time, so I would come here to see little kids.”
After graduating from OU, Standish received her master’s degree in library and information science from Kent State University. She said she always knew she wanted to be a librarian or a teacher.
“I’ve always loved reading,” she said. “My parents took us to the library when I was a kid, and I’ve always had a passion for them my whole life.”
Upon entering the Athens branch of the Athens County Public Library, Standish, with her curly blonde hair, is likely one of the first people a visitor would see.
“For years and years and years, librarians were behind the desk, and now we’re kind of getting out of behind the desk and getting more involved in the community,” she said.
Some of her goals in her new position, which she began Jan. 23, include working more within the Athens area. One of her ideas is to have a book club at some of the bars around town.
Athens County Public Libraries Director Nick Tepe said he has no doubt that Standish will do a great job in the role given her past experience. She has worked for six different library systems, including Charleston County Public Library and Delaware County District Library.
“She’s been very positive and has jumped right into her new role, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she’ll do,” Tepe said.
Jenny Strickmaker, who works in youth services at the library, said Standish has been a good listener and has helped bring unity to the staff.
“We see her all the time,” Strickmaker said. “She’s very approachable, and she wants to learn our patrons and meet the families, so that’s really encouraging.”
When Standish is not working or reading historical, realistic fiction, she teaches yoga as a certified yoga instructor and enjoys walking her border collie mix, Homer, around town.
“He was a rescue from Puerto Rico after the hurricanes,” she said. “He’s had quite the adventurous life so far.”
After making the trip around the several libraries in the state, moving to Charleston, South Carolina, and then coming back to Athens, Standish is excited to keep meeting Athens residents and get adjusted to her new role.
“So many unique people walk through the doors,” she said. “I love when people tell me how much they love their library and how much it means to them that we’re open to everyone.”