An Interview with Jay County Public Library Director Eric Hinderliter

I visited Eric Hinderliter recently at the Jay County Public Library in Portland, Indiana and was very impressed with what Eric and his staff are doing in Jay County!  The staff has a wonderful team spirit – they bonded when their library was flooded in 2014 from a water heater break and have come together to create a new Summer Challenge for all ages.

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PN: Are you from the area? If not, where are you from originally?
EH: No, I am originally from Ada, Ohio, which is located off I-75 close to Lima. Marriage turned me into a Hoosier, but I still prefer to root for Ohio State.

PN: What inspired you to work in libraries?
EH: I had no thoughts at all about working in a library before I started my first library job in Van Buren. I was a high school social studies teacher and owned a lawn care business and a restaurant before moving into the library field. Van Buren happened to need a director, I happened to need a job, and I lived in Van Buren. The rest is history.

PN: What is your favorite thing about working for your library?
EH: I like the fact that I have an opportunity each day to work with a group of people to make a difference in Jay County.

PN: What is your favorite book?
EH: A Sorrow in Our Heart: The Life of Tecumseh by Allan Eckert.

PN: If you could have dinner with any three famous people in recorded history, who would they be and why?
EH: Since I am a boring person I would want spirited dinner companions. With this in mind I would chose Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Babe Ruth for the right mix of political, military, and sports talk.

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PN: Can you give some background on how the program was created?
EH: A need in the community was found in connection with our local school corporation – the need to prepare children to enter kindergarten. Out of this need JCPL, in partnership with the Jay School Corporation, started the Kindergarten Prep School. This is a ten-week program that runs all summer from 9a.m.-12p.m. every Tuesday. Children get reinforcement of basic math, language, and writing skills as well as exposure to music and physical activity. Social skills such as taking turns and waiting in line are also stressed – these are the kinds of skills that may not always be reinforced at home and hopefully give these children a better chance for success in kindergarten. We typically have around 100 children registered each year.

PN: How much did this program cost?
EH: We run a budget of around $2,500 per year. We receive help from the school corporation and other donations to fund this program.

PN: How many staff members are needed for this service?
EH: We use five paid staff members as well as around ten volunteers and five paid teachers.

PN:  What do you wish you had known before starting this project?
EH: I was not at this library when this project was first started.

This blog post was written by Paula Newcom, Professional Development Librarian. For more information, contact the Professional Development Office at (317) 232-3697 or email