For nearly 20 years, the Hope Branch Library, located at 635 Harrison Street, has offered programming, resources and community events that have kept Hope-area residents enthralled. Recently, Dave Miller, branch manager, talked about programs the library offers, its community outreach efforts and what he enjoys most about his nearly decade-long tenure at the facility.

When did the library branch open?

This current location opened in 1998.

How many employees work at the branch?

We have 2 full-time employees and one part-time employee.

What types of programming does the library offer?

There's a lot of programming going on. There's everything from story times to teen-focused programming. We have a Harry Potter series, a book discussion group, and then other all-ages programming. We recently had a Sharks in the Library program that drew a large crowd of adults to kids. We usually try to do one of those types of bigger programs each month - but it depends on how things work out time-wise.

What type foot traffic do you get at the library?

That is becoming a difficult question to answer because we do so much outside the building. I go out to preschools and Hope Elementary and, in addition, we have so many resources and downloadable material available through our web site so I don't see everyone who uses the library --which is awesome. And it is awesome that we can reach people who can't or don't drive in to see us.

Does the library's online accessibility make it stand out in the Hope area?

Because we are part of the Bartholomew County Public Library system everything we offer they offer. We like to catch as many people as we can, so to speak. And certainly being able to download a book, do some research online or utilize other online offerings is a nice convenience for are residents. I've done it myself and I'm here every day.

How has the library's outreach impacted the community?

Well, I'm hoping it has had a positive impact. Specifically within the pre-school programming, once upon a time I did weekly story times. And those were successful, but nowadays so many kids are enrolled in pre-k programming that those kids aren't around in the numbers they used to be. We decided it would be a better use of our time and energy to go to them. I think having that exposure to age-appropriate literature is critical to kindergarten readiness. I think having a role model, such as my Mr. Dave character, who enjoys literature himself, is dynamic, reads and has fun and does silly voices - especially as a male - is pretty important.

Describe how you marry the traditional library concept with the digital age.

I think there is room for both quite frankly. And I don't think a well-rounded experience is possible without a little bit of both of those. We have tablets we check out with games for preschoolers with games and interactive educational things on there and they're really popular. But then there's also the face-to-face with the printed word. I think there are things I can do as a reader that don't come across digitally.

To the preschoolers, Mr. Dave becomes a character in town and the fact that they have a relationship with Mr. Dave is really important to them and they treat me like a rock star - and that's awesome. That happens because they sense that energy I bring and that love for literature and fun. And I think I can make reading more fun to them than a digital representation of that reading can be.

What do you enjoy most about your work at the library?

I've been at the Bartholomew County Public Library for 11 years and in my current position for 9 years. The thing I truly really enjoy about being out here in Hope, at the library, is that we are a central piece to what happens in town and the success of the town. If we don't thrive that hurts all the other businesses on the Square and vice versa. And so I really think we have a critical role to play in the success of the town and certainly community involvement is a big piece of what I consider my work here to be. Being able to be a part of the community and have a voice and a role to play within guiding the town's path forward is awesome and is something I really treasure about my work.