LaTrobe Barnitz was hired on June 8th of this year at the Foxburg Free Library. Barnitz comes to the library with 5 years of experience
Barnitz has two degrees. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Clarion University in 2016. He also earned a master of science in library science (MSLS) from Clarion University as well. Barnitz commented, “I’m almost fresh out of school since I only graduated last December”.
He continued, “Almost every job I’ve ever had has been in libraries. I first worked as a student assistant at Suhr Library at Clarion-Venango during the summers when I was a student. I manned the circulation desk there, so I mostly checked in and out books for students there. I also organized the shelves and helped to manage the periodical collection.”
During his last semester as a graduate student, he worked as an intern at the Carlson Library on Clarion’s main campus. He did a little bit of everything there. He also had some instructional sessions where he taught students about research. He answered questions at the reference desk as well has a little bit of cataloging and collection development. He was able to do a lot of things that helped him become well-rounded as a beginning librarian.
When Barnitz was in grad school, he made money on the side by working at the GameStop in the Cranberry Mall before the store closed. He says It may not have been a library, but that experience really helped him with his customer service skills.
When asked about his first name, LaTrobe, he said, “Starting off, people are always asking me where I got my name. I’m actually the fifth generation “LaTrobe” in my family. We have different middle names starting with my dad, so I’m just LaTrobe E. Barnitz and not LaTrobe Barnitz V. The name apparently comes from the family name of the British-American architect Benjamin Latrobe. The story goes that one of his descendants met one of my ancestors, and my ancestor was inspired to name his son after him.”
This is probably true of every librarian, but LaTrobe says he is a big reader. He’s had a love a reading from an early age thanks to his mom. He’s a big fan of almost anything in the fantasy and science fiction genres. Since he likes history enough to have a degree in it, he’s also very interested in anything historical, especially ancient history.
Along with that he is also a big sports fan. He roots for all the Pittsburgh sports teams, especially the Steelers and the Penguins. He played soccer from preschool through high school, and soccer is probably his favorite sport. He watches a lot of English Premier League soccer, but his favorite team is FC Barcelona in Spain.
Barnitz was born in Mount Joy, Lancaster County, PA. However, he did grow up on this side of the state. He has lived in Oil City since he was two. He went to St. Stephen School and then Venango Catholic High School where he graduated in 2013.
When asked if he had a family, wife, children, he said, “Nope. I just have my parents, a younger sister, a younger brother, and a cat named Legato.”
What he’s enjoyed the most at his new position at the Foxburg Library is how nice everyone is around the library. He says everyone, including the other staff member, the board members, and the patrons have been kind, welcoming, and supportive.
Asked if he’s finding his way around the area and meeting new folks, LaTrobe said, “After growing up in Western PA and going to school in Clarion, I know my way around the general area pretty well. I’m still getting to know the Foxburg area itself and the people in it. A lot of people have come into the library to introduce themselves. I’ve also been stopping at all of the local restaurants for takeout, and I’ve talked to a lot of people in those places as well. So far, I’ve already been to Foxburg Pizza, The Alleghany Grille, Leigh’s Cones, and Divani”.
Because of the COVID-19, LaTrobe wants patrons to know that at the library, they are doing everything they can to provide as safe of an environment as possible. Masks are a requirement to enter the library. There is hand sanitizer placed all around the library and are asking all patrons to use hand sanitizer as they walk in. There are signs and markers set up around the library so that everyone can maintain six feet of social distancing. There is a checkout station separate from the main desk so that patrons and staff members do not have to be in direct contact when checking in or out library materials. Upon their return, all library materials are being quarantined for a minimum of three days.
Patrons can come inside the library and use all of our usual services by appointment. They have set it up that way in order to reduce the amount of people that patrons will come in contact with. Also, they are cleaning all surfaces inside the library between appointments. People can make an appointment at the door, but it is prefered that they call or email ahead of time, just for scheduling purposes. If someone does not feel safe entering the library, they can call or email in book requests so that they can do a curbside delivery outside of the library building.
When asked what his specialty was as the library’s director, LaTrobe said, “I’ve worked at a front desk for almost the entirety of my library career. That is really where I feel the most comfortable. I like being on the front end of things and helping people find the books they want and perform research. Really, I want to focus on the patrons and their needs. The library is just a collection of books and other things without them”.
Not only to librarians like to read, but this librarian is an author. Barnitz said he received some exciting news this year. He has spent the last few years writing his own fantasy novel and then sent it around to publishers. He was lucky enough to have a publisher pick it up for publication. The book is called Soul Crystals: ARC of the Amuli, and it’s being published by Private Dragon, a small publisher based in Salt Lake City, Utah that specializes in fantasy and science fiction. Barnitz says the story is about an alternate reality where super-powered people emerged decades ago and have been controlling the world through the shadows ever since.
He and his editor have been working hard on the editing process. They are hoping to have the book out at the end of this year or early next year. After that, he’s hoping to do an entire series of Soul Crystals books.
You can read more about his book on the publisher’s website: https://privatedragon.com/.