Barb packed a lot into the small library. By late afternoon this pocket-sized public library would be overflowing with school kids learning how to use the first public computer in Norwood. Barb managed to stay one step ahead of the rush of school kids who packed the pint-sized library. Later, her son Todd credited his mom with starting him on his profession in computers at an early age. From a one-computer library to the current five
computers for public use of the Internet, the interest in computers has grown to become more than half of the use in the library. "I know how to take a computer apart and put it back together with a Swiss Army knife," Barb says, still one step ahead of her users.
Children's literature is a specialty with Barb, too. Publishers give her children's books for review, taking advantage of her expertise and experience with all ages. Most of these she in turn donates to the library.
Barb has also written several grants. One, for puppets, was especially popular with the kids in the Summer Reading Program. The puppets were used during the readings and then could be checked out for home theatrics.
The one-room library was started with a small, donated house that was moved to its present site in the Town of Norwood from the Herndon homestead on Oak Hill in the 1940s. Staffed by dedicated volunteer Lena Nix, from a pioneer Wright's Mesa family, the tiny cabin had one window, a gas stove, one light bulb, some rental and some donated books. It was about the size of the Telluride library in the "old jail" at that time. Another room was added to the library building in 1999 on a pay-as-you-go basis. "We built the foundation for the new room one year and finished it the next," says Barb. Handling everything from design to contractors, her work paid off in a spacious new second addition to the original cabin and room. With the help of a great group of volunteers called the Friends of the Library, new book shelves and magazine racks were purchased and, just as in the old library, donations filled out the rest of the needs. From a fish tank with fish to a real mounted Golden Eagle to stimulate curiosity.
With over 10,000 volumes in the library today, Barb figures she has probably personally ordered almost all of them. How does she decide which books to buy for the library? "Lists," Barb says. "Librarians are into lists." Best-sellers, award-winning books or lists from organizations like the National Endowment for the Humanities. "We have all but two books on their list," Barb says proudly. Plus, she also knows the tastes of the community well after 25 years of interlibrary loans and conversations with her patrons.
In the past two years as other libraries have closed and budgets have evaporated for regional programs that serve small libraries, Barb has fought tenaciously to keep this vital community library open and in full service. With the foresight and determination of the first librarian, Lena Nix, who promoted the library district and county mill levy, Barb researched all options and stretched her budget to keep the services that her public had become accustomed to. At one point recently she was back to keeping a card file and hand-stamping the books like in the early days of the library. But within weeks, she made connections and arranged for an affordable automated system to get the library not only back up to par but moving ahead. Other equally creative solutions kept the interlibrary loans and the popular Internet connection. Barb is now completing arrangements for the library's first website, and then, maybe e-books.
"It's a fun job. I enjoy people and books. It's been a good career," says Barb, radiating enthusiasm. She is still planning to keep improving the library for a few more years before she retires to her stacks of books at home and the adventures of retirement.
To celebrate Barb's 25 years of building an innovative and up-to-date library for the Norwood community, the Friends of Norwood Library invite you to drop by the library for food and drink at an open house on Thursday, Feb. 17 from 5-7 p.m. Or, just tell Barb how much you appreciate her years of great service the next time you stop by the library for a book or a video or just a welcoming smile.