MY LAST JOB – APRIL 2021
We moved to Crested Butte, Colorado in 1998. I had a couple of part-time jobs after moving there. In 2001, the local newspaper advertised a job at the library. Most people called it the Old Rock Library because it was built from stone. When most of the coal mines in and around Crested Butte closed in the 50s, some of the miners, already used to working with stone, crafted the building out of stone. For many years, the two-story building was used as the local school. After the school closed, the building was vacant and in ill repair. A group of local citizens helped restore this historic building into a beautiful asset to the town. It became a library and designated as a historic building.
After applying for the job, I received a call about coming in for an interview. The Crested Butte Library was a branch of the Gunnison Library. I already had two friends working there, Jane Thomas and Kathleen Ross. I knew both from my work in the Crested Butte Mountain Theatre. I think having them in my corner helped get me the job. It was another part-time job but a steady one, unlike many of the jobs in town that were seasonal, either winter during the ski season or the summer. People that had seasonal jobs were usually unemployed during the off-seasons.
One of the things I brought to the job was my many years of IT experience. The availability of the internet at the library got patrons inside. The current staff only had limited experience with computers and the internet. People would have questions about accessing the internet, the use of software on our computers, and many other questions. Eventually, folks were able to bring their laptops, phones, and tablets with their own set of questions and problems.
Initially, I was a substitute with no set hours. I filled in for people on an as-needed basis. Since I was semi-retired I was flexible and able to work most times that I was asked. I enjoyed the ladies I worked with and the job. Besides helping people with the computers, my other responsibilities were checking in and checking out books, researching books and other topics for our patrons, shelving books, searching for missing books, working with the children that came in, and opening and closing the library. (Downstairs)
Management of the library changed hands several times. One of the branch managers had a husband who was a master carpenter who built shelves for us and made lots of improvements that the library needed.
Over the years, the library staff increased and library patronage continued to grow by leaps and bounds. We had an ever-expanding VHS collection which over time became a DVD collection of movies and documentaries. To preserve our DVD collection, which took a beating when checked out, I researched and found a device that would clean and re-surface our DVDs and make them look brand new. We purchased a cleaning machine and cleaning DVDs became one of my duties.
We also had a magazine collection that patrons enjoyed checking out. At some point, I was given the job of taking care of that collection. Usually, one day a week, part of my Thursday, I spent processing the new magazines that came in that week. The older versions of the mags were marked as Back Issues on the cover and updated in our computers to reflect the change, then they were placed on a shelf behind the two latest additions of the magazine. Back Issues could be checked out for three weeks and the new ones for one week.
One of my projects that I was quite proud of was redesigning the way we displayed our magazines. I felt magazines should be displayed as they do at newsstands by topics, e.g., Sports magazines with sports, cooking magazines with cooking, etc. The old way was to alphabetize them like most things in the library.
There was always plenty of programming for author presentations, movies at the library, holiday events like Halloween. It was a fun place to work. I enjoyed meeting and working with the many interesting people that came into the library. Many became friends. Out of all the jobs I’ve had, being a librarian was one of the best. I often thought that if I had my working career to do over, I would consider being a librarian.
Working at the library was the perfect job for a writer. I found that I read more and was exposed to more information and ideas. When I published my books, I was always a welcome guest for readings. I continued working at the library for fifteen years until the fall of 2016 when I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I still miss being a librarian. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I haven’t been inside a library in over a year. When I did go to the library in Santa Fe, I found myself mindlessly straightening books on the shelves. To stay involved with the local library, I joined the Santa Fe Library Friends and volunteer my time whenever I can.