In Thomasville, storytime with family is now a walk in the park. Thomas County Public Library installed illustrated picture book pages throughout a half-mile loop in downtown’s Paradise Park, and features a different picture book each month.
The library’s marketing coordinator Samantha Hanchett launched “Story Walk Thomasville” in July as a way to stay connected to the library during quarantine.
“There is a family that has come every month and they know when I’m changing the book,” said Hanchett. “The other day I was in the middle of changing it, and it was so nice to see the children read one book page and race their brother or sister to get to the next page. It’s a lot of fun.”
Three years ago, Hanchett moved back to Thomasville from Los Angeles to be closer to family. She changed careers from fashion and personal styling to creating striking displays and artistic partnerships for the library.
Hanchett has always been drawn to the visual arts. Her favorite books as a child were by illustrators like Bill Peet. She recalls checking out his autobiography from her local library several times over the years.
When she took on her current role, she was surprised to find that many area libraries wanted to make changes in the way they to display books and to update their decor.
“Everyone was moving into more of a fashion-focused, retail-focused view, and librarians were wondering how to do this,” said Hanchett. “I’ve been focusing on this my entire career. For me, it felt so natural that you would instantly want to make everything visually appealing.”
Hanchett enjoys the more “outlandish walking works of art” from fashion moguls Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga. When it comes to designing displays, she takes a similar approach — thinking outside the box so community members can engage with books in new ways.
On social media, she arranges photos so people get a sense of what they can see and do at the library. She has also been instrumental in giving the inside of the library a fresh coat of paint and more artistic touches to draw in readers.
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