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Park Rapids welcomes new librarian

Jodi Schultz bid her daycare children goodbye, assuming the managerial role at the library. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

The Park Rapids Area Library has been on Jodi Schultz' itinerary since it opened at its second location on Highway 34.

On a regular basis, she shuttled kids from her daycare in for story hour, keenly aware of how reading "wires the brain" for learning.

Now, she will be the one behind the book, telling the stories.

Schultz has accepted the library's branch manager position, her daycare and preschool, Imagination Station, closing.

She received notice of the library's offer while vacationing on Madeline Island on Lake Superior. Her vacation time with daughters Sarah, 15, Myah, 11, and husband Brad cut short to begin training.

A library is a place where everyone is welcome, with no income or age requirements, and where personal and political beliefs are immaterial, she said.

And inside the four walls of a library awaits a labyrinthian path of adventures for kids.

"The first three years of brain development in a child can never be repeated or replaced," said the Bemidji State University graduate who holds a degree in elementary education, early childhood special ed her emphasis.

"It's a window of opportunity," she said of a child's brain development, "with so many connections ready to be wired."

A child who's been read to from the beginning is much more likely to be a learner, she said, reading at or above grade level when they enter school.

They adapt to the learning environment because they have a positive association with reading - one-on-one with mom or dad, journeying off on a literary adventure.

"And it creates a lifelong feeling about books," Schultz said of the "positive association" with the written word.

"I loved daycare. Loved the kids. The goodbyes were sad. But I'm at a new stage in my life. And physically, it takes a toll," she said of lifting children. "It was a good time to switch.

"I'm excited to be here. The staff and volunteers are amazing. Everyone has been so patient while I learn the job. I look forward to working with people in the community, in a new and different way," Schultz said.

An open house to welcome Schultz will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9 at the library.

Refreshments will be served by Friends of the Library, sponsors of the event.