Situated in a mere 950-square–foot room inside the Red Oak City Hall is the City of Red Oak Library whose books and information are cared for by director Logan Ragsdale and his small team.
Ragsdale, 60, has been in libraries for more than 30 years and considers the quaint Red Oak Library a home-away-from-home. Though he and his three employees are the only ones who stay for more than an hour, the library still manages to service thousands in the community.
“The library isn’t just the brick and mortar library anymore,” Ragsdale said. “It’s also a collection of resources and books online.”
In this third year as library director, Ragsdale has worked to guide each and every patron to the information they are looking for —not allowing one guest to leave the room without the promise that he will deliver exactly what they need.
On any given day, patrons from Red Oak and neighboring communities search the library for their favorite book, information on the rights of special needs children in schools, or a newly released film to add some old-school DVD flair to their movie session.
When the library’s visitors cannot find what they need, Ragsdale deploys his resources, offering online databases, book exchanges with other libraries, to locate the information for them online, or to add the desired item to the more than 15,000 item collection the library holds.
“A librarian is a guide to information, not just books,” he said. “Everything is not yet on the internet and even if it is on the internet a lot of people don’t know where to find it. Helping people be connected with books for entertainment value, information, whatever it may be is what attracted me to the library. “
Growing up, Ragsdale always had his nose in a book, so attending the University of North Texas to get a degree in library sciences was an oblivious path.
Throughout his years as a librarian, Ragsdale has worked in various libraries from the Denton Public Library to the Queens Library in New York City before returning to Texas to work in Red Oak. It was in Queens where Ragsdale realized being a librarian is more than books but helping those who need all types of information.
“We had five or six people who would come into our library every day who were homeless and would occupy the library while we were open,” he said. “We would help them find the nearest houses (shelter) if they needed, or find information about jobs.”
It’s the passion that Ragsdale brought with him, and taught all of his staff, that now radiates out of the library enticing information seekers to stop in and visit.
Built 12 years ago as part of city hall, the Red Oak Library has grown from a mere 7,800 books to the size it is today. But it’s not just books that the walls hold.
The Red Oak Library is part of the of the Texas Library Association, which allows the library to participate in a program called Library Loan. If the Red Oak location doesn't have the book you’re looking for, they can receive it from other libraries throughout the state via an online database. Patrons then can check out the book from the Red Oak library as if they have always had it.
“It’s become very very popular,” Ragsdale said. “It expands the resources of the library to all other libraries in the state.”
Currently, the library hosts a story time program on Wednesdays from 10 — 10:45 a.m. that offers stories, crafts, learning games and songs for children 18 months to five years old. Adults can also participate in the monthly book club meetings. January’s meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. this Monday.
While the summer offers more activities for library patrons, some amenities are available year round.
The library boasts several computer stations that allow patrons to access the Internet and print, as well as a collection of DVD’s for movie buffs to check out. Library cardholders also have access to thousands of books online through the Library’s overdrive account – meaning you may not have to make a trip to the physical library if you want to check out the latest book.
While all of these programs we’re available before Ragsdale took over, he expanded the library’s online patron reach by adding RB Digital, a catalog of the current issues of popular magazines, to the library’s repertoire. This catalog can also be accessed by library cardholders without ever having to leave home.
“The library is small, but we pack a lot of good services and a lot of good books in here,” he said. “Libraries are more than books.”
Ragsdale said that as the city grows, the library will eventually outgrow its cozy corner and possibly need new digs, but until then the small library will continue to be a place where anyone looking for something can find it.
“There have been talks in the past to try and find a stand-alone building, but there are no immediate plans,” he said. “It’s just like any service, as the city grows they will definitely want to grow the library too. The library and librarians connect with people. I will never forget when I ordered a series of books once and put them out on the shelf, a little boy came in and saw the series and grabbed the books. He hugged the whole series like a teddy bear, and it’s moments like that that make me enjoy work.“