Q-&-A Montie Manning
Writer / Jamie Hergott
Photographer / Darren Boston
Where are you from?
I am from Hebron, Kentucky originally. When I was 18 years old, I went to college in Louisville. I worked in the university library in college, and I was going to be a teacher. But I really fell in love with working in the library. In the teaching program, we did our student teaching very early. They did that to weed people out. Well, I was weeded out. I applied to graduate school at the University of Kentucky. Eventually, I was hired as the director of a library in Alexandria, and I served there as director for 13 years. We did some major renovations and really gutted the place, starting from square one. It was a great experience. I just got to the point where I was bored, and I thought, someone else needs to come in and take a crack at it.
Tell me a little bit about yourself: your family, your background, etc.
I have two brothers and two sisters, both of my parents have been gone for a while. I am the youngest boy. I have a younger sister. They all live back home, and we get together several times a year, birthdays, holidays, etc. I am married with no kids. We have cats instead.
How long have you been here at the Plainfield Library, and tell us what brought you here?
I have been here since August 2017. Rachel, the director here, left. I found out about it because we were all a part of Evergreen Indiana, so we all knew each other, saw each other at conferences and such. We were all in tune with what’s going on with the others. Someone contacted me that the job was open. I applied and was selected.
What do you like best about Plainfield?
There are many things I like about being here. I like the trail systems. I am so looking forward to using those in warmer weather. The parks are really nice. I really want to get out to Sodalis Nature Park. Then there’s the community. It’s a wonderful community to be in. It’s a growing community. It doesn’t feel huge to me. It feels laid back, not hectic. I am thrilled to be a part of it.
There is none. I get up about 4:30 in the morning. As I’m drinking my coffee, I look at my schedule, think of all the things I want to do that day and then it never goes as scheduled. It’s a totally random experience every time I walk in. I like to be downstairs, but that’s not always how it turns out. I have lots of meetings and lots of planning. I am also the maintenance guy on staff, so whenever there’s a maintenance issue, I’m working on that. There is so much going on here, it’s often hard to keep up with it. I don’t sweat that too much. I know eventually a pattern will develop.
What is your favorite part about working here?
I’m going to have to say the staff and the people who come in. I love the folks who come in. I love the fact that they value the library. When we were really in the thick of the roof project, the workers were from out of town and would often comment on how many cars were in the parking lot. Libraries are so much more than books. They’re community centers, places for people to come in and have social contact and be with other people. It’s a gathering place. This library is the epicenter of the community as far as I’m concerned, and I think the community feels that way too.
What is your favorite book and why?
It’s “Watership Down” by Richard Adams. I absolutely love that book. I like the fact that it’s a group of individuals working together to overcome problems and to achieve a goal. That really speaks to me on so many levels throughout my life, work, all sorts of things. It makes me optimistic about things. No matter what you go through, as long as people stick together, things will be good.
What is your favorite book from when you were a child/young adult?
“The Lorax.” We had this routine growing up. Every Friday, my mom and dad would get us from school. We went to dinner, went to the library and went to the grocery store. Then we’d be home by the time “The Dukes of Hazzard” came on at 8 p.m. Every single time, I got “The Lorax.” I checked it out a million times.
What’s your favorite book to movie adaptation?
I am a purist in some ways. Some of the more recent interpretations change the books too much and it spoils it for me. So I tend not see the remakes. However, Stephen Kings’ “Misery” was absolutely phenomenal. The book is good, and the movie is just creepy and awesome. It’s the rare case where I think the movie was better than the book.
What are some of your hobbies?
I like to read, naturally. I enjoy hiking, but I am not a camper. I do like the outdoors. I like going and getting a cabin in the woods. I like to travel. I’ve been to Alaska. It was very moving. We went whale watching, came up right next to us. I could have touched them. It was one of the top 10 experiences of my life.
I have some travel goals. I want to go to Ireland since I’m Irish. I want to go to Rome because my undergrad was in ancient history. Germany is a place I’d love to go, especially for Oktoberfest. And Hawaii. Once I get to Hawaii, I will have almost visited every state in the Union. I’m just missing Vermont and New Hampshire.
The coolest place I have been to was Bermuda. People often forget it’s even there. The people there were so nice and respectful. The island is small but there’s a bus system and school kids would get on the bus. Kids would get up for the older people. It was just wonderful. The beaches there are wonderful. The food’s expensive, but it was just beautiful.
Do you have any advice for your younger self?
First, I’d choose to go back to myself in fifth grade. And if I did, there are three things I’d tell my fifth-grade self. The first thing would be to stick with sports. The second would be that school matters. Get serious about it early and don’t wait until high school to get your act together. And third, don’t ever take out a student loan.
In a world of iPads, smartphones and screens everywhere, what’s something the library can offer that these things can’t?
The human touch. People have been talking about the death of the library for a long time. People come here because they get the social aspect. For some, this is the only social interaction they get. I’m confident the library will never go away. It’s a community thing. People crave community.
What’s coming up at the library in 2018 that you’d like us to get the word out about for you?
Virtual reality. We have just started to dabble with VR. We are looking to do some cool things with it as far as programming and exposing people to it. We are looking into using it to allow people to visit places they may not be able to get to otherwise. We are looking at grant funding and already some of the basics. We are focusing on how we can develop this technology and adapt it for use in the library. We are at the tinkering stage.
I extend an invitation to the community to come if you haven’t already and check out what we have going on. You won’t be disappointed. You can stay up to date via our website plainfieldlibrary.net and social media pages.