Cortez Library hires new leader

Eric Ikenouye, from Salt Lake City, is the new director of the Cortez Public Library. “I want to continue to grow the library to match the needs of the community,” he said. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Eric Ikenouye, from Salt Lake City, is the new director of the Cortez Public Library. “I want to continue to grow the library to match the needs of the community,” he said.

The Cortez Library has hired a new director.

Eric Ikenouye, 38, took over the reins this week, arriving from managing libraries in Salt Lake City.

“After exploring this area, my fiancé and I decided this was a place we would like to live. When the job opening came up, I thought this is too good to be true,” he said from his new office.

Ikenouye grew up in Greeley, Colo., and has a master’s degree in library science from Syracuse University. In Utah, he worked as a librarian at the Westminster College and Salt Lake City Public libraries, and at the Western Governors library.

“In college, I always worked at the library. Before long, I was always there, and it became my career,” he said. “I love to serve the public and help people.”

After settling in, Ikenouye plans to analyze how to best serve the community needs. He welcomes suggestions from staff and public.

“I want to continue to grow the library to match the needs of the community,” he said.

Libraries are a critical part of smaller towns, he added. They are a gathering place for learning, and a hub of information and services, such as Internet access, and classes.

Providing a mix of old and new is a challenge for librarians. Traditional books and research materials will always be a mainstay. But rows of computers, WiFi and e-Books are also the new normal.

“The there is a lot of information out there on the Internet, but a lot of it is poor quality,” he said. “Library materials are more of a trusted source.”

Libraries are also an avenue for social services.

While in Salt Lake, Ikenouye was part of a program that sent volunteers into libraries to counsel the homeless about services they qualify for but did not have the wherewithal to apply for.

“It was a successful program and very helpful for people,” he said.

Supporting computer training, job services, and literacy programs are also goals for the new director.

“For an older person losing a job, computer literacy becomes critical, and libraries provide that kind of training,” he said.

For kids, a strong summer reading program is key for education, and they will continue at the Cortez Library.

“It is a huge part of the community. Studies show that if a child does not read in the summer, they will fall behind in school in the fall,” Ikenouye said.

When not at the library, the new director can be found jogging with his dog, golfing or camping.

jmimiaga@cortezjournal.com