South West Illinois News

South West Illinois News

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Du Quoin Public Library director fosters lifelong learning


By South West Illinois News Reports | Nov 18, 2019

Photo courtesy of the Du Quoin Public Library

Kristina Benson’s favorite part of being director of the Du Quoin Public Library is her interactions with patrons.

“I love my job,” Benson told SW Illinois News. “Each day is a new adventure. I love making slime bubbles with the pre-teens during a Saturday craft, reviewing Algebra with the teens on a weekday afternoon or helping an adult type up a resume.”

Benson became the library’s director in 2011.

“Directors of small libraries are jacks-of-all trades,” she said. “[My] duties include grant writing, budgeting, circulation, copy-cataloging, and customer service. The goal is to create a space that encourages lifelong learning, nurtures our community and continues to provide for our immediate technological needs.”

Benson is particularly proud of a program the library implemented in 2014 called Ringing in Readers.

“New readers are encouraged to read a title to a staff librarian,” she said. “Upon finishing, you are presented with an Excellence in Reading award and given a mallet to ring our city's bell. When I hear the bell, I know our community has a new reader. It makes me tear up every time.”

Benson, a Du Quoin native, has a bachelor’s degree in English from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a master’s degree in library science from the University of Kentucky. She was inspired to work in a library when she was in between degrees and taking classes in museum studies.

“I once put off a paper until the very last minute,” Benson said. “Upon going to the library, I discovered that the resources I needed where inaccessible due to construction. A reference librarian overheard my problem and asked me for the titles I needed. She, in very short order, emerged from the basement carrying the exact books I needed to complete my assignment. It was like magic.”

While Benson doesn’t have a lot of spare time, she does read for thirty minutes every day. 

“I love reading,” she said. “Some characters you meet will change your life. Right now, I mainly read non-fiction. I love gardening books, personal finance and vegetarian cookbooks.”

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