Luke Bentley likes to build bridges to people, and he’s carried that skill from AYA education to his current career in service for public libraries.
In January 2021, Bentley was appointed director of the Briggs Lawrence County Public Library, which is based in Ironton, Ohio, with four additional regional branches.
Bentley, who graduated from The Patton College of Education in 2010, double-majored in Adolescent-to-Young Adult Education (specializing in Social Studies) and in History. He then earned a Master’s in Library and Information Science from Kent State in 2018.
Before starting his career in the library field, Bentley worked as a substitute teacher. Between 2010-2013, he taught in schools throughout the Southeast Ohio region, including Trimble High School, Athens Middle School, Miller High School, Meigs High School, and Federal Hocking.
Finding a permanent teaching position was difficult at the time. So, in order to have a steady job, he took a position with the Athens County Public Libraries (ACPL) where he spent five years as a youth services librarian.
“I quickly fell in love with how education is approached in public libraries. As a youth services librarian, I was able to present educational ideas and new information to kids in a much more relaxed, voluntary environment,” said Bentley. “Seeing how education can be approached holistically and independently through a library, I quickly felt comfortable and very much at home in the public library world.”
After ACPL, Bentley spent one year with the Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library as youth services manager and two years with the Guernsey County District Public Library as the assistant director. What he likes most about working in public libraries is having the opportunity to support the public of all ages and in a myriad of ways.
“In a library, if you want to know something or find something, we can help, and I find it to be a great privilege to provide that help,” said Bentley. “If someone simply wants to find some books on cooking or gardening, I can do that and let them independently explore those subjects. If a child wants to find a book to read that is outside of the traditional reading level track they may have to follow at school, I relish being able to connect them to books that can improve and facilitate a lifelong love of reading.”
Bentley is immensely proud of being a graduate of The Patton College of Education and believes the skills he learned when training to be a teacher, particularly classroom management, transferred well to managing people outside of the traditional educational world.
“The College of Education taught me to treat my students as individuals and with respect,” said Bentley. “I take pride in the fact that I treat the people that work with me in libraries in the same way. It's always best to build bridges to people and let them find their way to you.”