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Watkins named new Youth Services Librarian

The Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library will take a programming break during the month of August, but will get back into the swing of things thanks to Allison “Ally” Watkins, who was named Youth Services Librarian.

Watkins comes to LCOPL from the Mississippi Library Commission, where she held various roles, including early literacy coordinator, youth services supervisor and most recently, library consultant. During her time as a consultant, Watkins served libraries across the state.

Watkins also holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Mississippi, as well as a master’s degree in library information science from the University of Southern Mississippi.

“While I was with the Mississippi Library Commission, I was able to see libraries and meet librarians all over the state,” Watkins said. “I’ve learned so much from amazing Youth Services librarians from the all over the state and I’m excited to bring all of this invaluable knowledge to my new role.”

In addition to bringing fresh ideas to the table, Watkins said she can’t wait to connect with families, children and teenagers. Part of being a librarian, she said, is the opportunity to watch children grow up and guide them to being lifelong readers.

Watkins’ arrival follows the June retirement of Nancy Opalko, long time Children’s Librarian and Assistant Branch Manager, who served the library for 25 years. Laura Beth Walker, Head Librarian, said she looks forward to seeing how Watkins will be an added value to their team.

“While Nancy will be missed, I am very excited about the future of Youth Services programming at the Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library,” Walker said in a recent news release. “We are all committed to continuing the great programming from the past and welcoming new ideas to serve all of the children of the LOU community. I look forward to seeing the innovations Ally Watkins will coordinate with our hard-working Youth Specialist, Meridith Wulff.”

Meredith Wickham, Director of First Regional Library system, announced Watkins’ hiring and said the LOU community will benefit from her presence.

“We are thrilled to have Ally join us,” Wickham said in a news release. “I am confident she will be a great asset to our Lafayette County & Oxford branch, and a wonderful advocate for youth services in Lafayette County.”

Her new role will begin on August 6, and Watkins said she plans to spend her first month getting acquainted with the library and the community.

The Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library and First Regional Library System have been part of the LOU community for nearly 90 years. Continuing that tradition is something Watkins said she looks forward to, especially when it comes to attracting new visitors.

“The library is for everyone,” Watkins said. “There’s something at the library for every member of the community, and you might be surprised at what you find there. Support of your local library is supporting your own interests and those of the entire LOU community.”