Confessions of a Smith Valley librarian
June 13, 2014
Out here in Smith Valley, we have horses, cows and sheep, but we don't have many folks to talk to. Helping solve this predicament, is the "Taj," a very classy library. Overseeing the place, is the sweetest, most darling (I don't often go out on a limb like that) librarian. Her name is Wynne Prindle.
For many years, the people of Smith Valley pitched in, raised money, volunteered, planned and finally came up with a deluxe, megastructure. Our library is shared between the residents of Smith Valley, and the students of the k-12 Smith Valley School. Talk about a successful endeavor, this ranks right up there with the invention of sliced bread.
My neighbor Lynda, who happens to have been an interior decorator guru in Huntington Beach, lent her talents to the project. Now we have cherry wood shelving, deluxe counter tops, windows that look out on the Pine Nuts, and more open space than in Wyoming.
To run such a prestigious facility, you need someone with plenty of "smarts." Wynne is that person. She glommed onto the librarian position last December. "Ron, when I saw the opening for this job, I couldn't believe how excited I was," she says with a smile as wide as Carson Valley. "Come on, Wynne, back then the county had a strangle hold on the library budget. Our library was only open 6 hours a week (20 hours now)," I comment skeptically. "It didn't matter. I wasn't even looking for a job, at the time. Every day, I can't believe how fortunate I am. I honestly am doing something I truly love," she says. I'm a little concerned. This is a librarian job, not a taste-tester position for Ghirardelli Chocolates.
"As a kid, our family went to the library every week. I used to walk home from school, reading a book. When I got there, my mom made me put the book down, and go outside, and play," she says, her voice filled with remembrance. Thinking back, I realize Wynne and I are similar in some ways. Only most of the books I read required crayons, and you had to stay inside the lines.
A question wells up, deep inside of me, and needs to be asked. Dare I? It's so personal. "Wynne, do you watch television at night?" Without batting an eye, she lays it on the line. "Ron, we don't even have a television set. It's not that I don't like visual media. I just like visualizing the character myself, she says." No television. There you have it. It's out in the open. Who am I to judge?
I walk over to a fancy, new coffee machine, put a small container in, pull down the handle, and seconds later, I'm sipping a freshly brewed cup of coffee. "Where did this elegant gadget come from?" I ask. "Amy Geddes, our new director bought the coffee maker. The "Friends of the Library" buy the coffee," Wynne says, in a matter of fact way. How generous. I'll bet you don't even have to show your library card, to get a cup of coffee.
I can't help sensing a curious sense of hospitality pervading the library. Thousands of books line the shelves, racks of DVDs and CDs and computer use is free. To be safe, I always bring a wheelbarrow, to carry my books and DVDs home.
"Wynne, how old do you have to be, to get a library card?" I ask. "You have to at least be in kindergarten, and we don't do a credit check," she says with a sly smile.
Wynn gets serious. "Ron, big, things are happening in our library. We have a craft group that meets every week, Kim Gattuso has yoga classes, we sponsored a big book signing event and we're going to have a summer reading program for kids. You'll be happy to know, we just subscribed to The Record-Courier," her voice tingling with anticipation. Imagine, I can now make a cup of coffee, pick up a newspaper, sit in a lounge chair, and read the work of a celebrated columnist, me. (Possible hint of egotism here?).
"Wynn, what is a "Mentos Geyser?" I ask. "Fizz, Boom, Read" is the name of our Summer Reading Program. "Mentos Geysers" are a way of getting kids excited about coming to the library. We set up a Diet Coke bottle, with a small device attached to it. The kids are all gathered around, and we do a count-down; five, four, three, two, one, and then drop the little "Mentos Geyser" envelope into the bottle. Instantly a 20-foot high geyser shoots up in the air. We set off 15 of them last week. Four fell over, and went every which way. The kids had a ball. Next meeting we will make Father's Day cards. The idea is to attract kids to the library, and have them sign a contract to read several books during the summer," she says.
Wynne has a rare, and deep love of books, and she delights in talking with patrons. You can't help feeling her passion when you talk with her. She always makes you feel important. Where can you go that has a Starbucks, a Barnes and Noble and is a fancy social club, all in one place?
Wynne is ambitious, audacious and always eloquent. A movement is underway to rename our library to "Wynne's Place."
Ron Walker lives in Smith Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.