BENTON HARBOR — Kat Boyer, director of Benton Harbor Public Library, got serious about a library career because she was a serious collector of baseball cards.
“It’s actually funny,” Boyer said. “When I was a kid, I was really into baseball, even at 9 years old. I sorted the cards by league, alphabetical order, player and team.”
Realization came to her while she was a volunteer at a library in Barrie, Ontario, Canada. Organizing the baseball cards was much like organizing information and resources for a library, Boyer said.
“I loved knowing a lot of different things,” Boyer said. “But you don’t have to be an expert, you just have to know enough to get the rest of the information.”
Boyer, 39, graduated from St. Joseph High School in 1998. She earned a bachelor’s degree in computer and information systems from the University of Phoenix in 2011, and a master’s degree in library and information science from Wayne State University in 2016.
As a volunteer, she shelved books and ran various programs. When she moved back to the Twin Cities area, she looked around for a library job and “Benton Harbor was the one that hired me” in 2004.
The Benton Harbor Public Library is in good shape, Boyer said.
“We’re doing really well,” Boyer said. “We’re having a kind of revitalization. Libraries are changing. They’re not just places to get books. They are centers of the community, places to get information and knowledge.”
There are a lot of remaining challenges, she said.
“The challenges we mainly face are like any nonprofit – funding,” Boyer said. “Property values are fluctuating, and I’m trying to find out information about penal fines. Those have been dropping. It’s just funding.”
Property tax levies and penal fines are major sources of funding for public libraries in Michigan. Boyer said she’s been in contact with state Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township, to get more information about penal fines.
Libraries are increasingly important, and their services are crucial, Boyer said.
“People don’t even realize what libraries are good for now,” Boyer said. “People have no way to print things from a smartphone. People have to use our computers to print resumes and documents. People use our auditorium, which is used to do free tax preparation in tax season.”
Libraries are education resources as well, she said.
“We’re trying to give people knowledge through experience,” Boyer said. “It’s not just the words out there. It’s really trying to learn hands-on.”
But despite the challenges, working in a library is an important and satisfying job, she said.
“I love getting to make an impact in people’s lives,” she said. “Sometimes it’s helping them find a book, sometimes it’s just being there and getting them to the right resources they might need. It’s helping them find what they need.”
As far as what she likes least about her job, Boyer said, “I’m not the best at traditional paperwork.”
When she’s not working, Boyer said she still enjoys sports, something she’s always liked.
“I played a lot of sports growing up,” Boyer said. “I liked baseball. I’ve always watched the Cubs. I played basketball, soccer, golf and tennis.”
Boyer said she is a runner who does triathlons, and also enjoys video and board games.
As far as her reading preferences, “I like a big assortment,” Boyer said. “Mysteries. I’m really enjoying a lot of middle-grade fantasy series ... I love Harry Potter. I’ll give almost anything a chance. I also like thrillers.”
Boyer and her husband, Brandon, live in Lincoln Township. They were married in 2013.