For the last decade, Jean Ruark and her husband, both lovers of bourbon and travel, have been frequent tourists in Frankfort. Now, as the new executive director of Paul Sawyier Pubilc Library, Ruark gets to call Frankfort home.

“I love Frankfort,” Ruark said. “(It’s) one of our favorite getaways from Ohio. The first time we came here, the people were so welcoming and so kind. There was a wealth of history, a wealth of things for us to do. Frankfort felt comfortable. It felt like home from the very beginning.”

Ruark began work as new executive director of the library earlier this month.

“When I saw that director’s position was open, I took a shot and hoped I would get it,” Ruark said. And she did.

According to the library board's August meeting minutes, Ruark was one of six finalists interviewed for the position. 

Donna Gibson, library director for the past 17 years, will officially retire at the end of the month. 

Born and raised in Ohio, Ruark built her career there, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in advertising design with minors in illustration and interior design from the Columbus College of Art and Design.

From there, she worked as a staff artist at a library and fell in love with them.

“Libraries are, to me, an essential service,” Ruark said. “They give back to the community. They are responsive to the community's needs. We have so many resources that really can benefit anyone, and they’re here for everyone to use because that’s how we're structured. So I believe in giving back … . I feel I am facilitating that and I am giving back to the community and helping make the community stronger.”

For the past 24 years, Ruark worked at the Mansfield Richland County Library as communications coordinator.

Ruark hopes she can increase community engagement as the new executive director of PSPL.

“I think the library is always really engaged in the community, but I'd like to see that that extended,” she said. “I'd like for the library to maybe reach out more into the community. The reality is that we have a wonderful library here. We want people to come. It doesn't always fit in with someone's schedule. So we want to make those opportunities for people to use the library, whether it's in the building or outside of the building.

“I'd like to see us expand that. I'd also like to see maybe some more arts programming and more vested interest in the arts community in Frankfort.”

Ultimately, Ruark wants Frankfort to know what the library has to offer.

“I'd like us to be a little bit more top of mind for certain things,” she said. “It's a challenge for every library, right, but that part of my goal is to work on that so that more people in the community know what the library has to offer and know that we have something for you. It doesn't matter what your interests, or your goals are.”

Ruark can be reached at 502-352-2665 ext. 200 or at jean.ruark@pspl.org

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