Blackwell Public Library starts new chapter

by Charles Gerian

The Blackwell Public Library is turning the page and starting a new chapter in its 101-year story.

The library started April by saying goodbye to Lisa Vargas, who retired as the head librarian after five years. Vargas helped guide the library through immense change, including the coronavirus pandemic, for which the library was awarded the Blackwell Area Chamber of Commerce’s first-ever “Blackwell Spirit Award.”

Now, the duties of the community’s hub fall on the shoulders of Library Director of Operations Talyn Spence and Head Librarian Tina Cavin.

"We're excited and ready to continue the Blackwell library's legacy of innovation and change,” Spence said. “Together with Tina, we will preserve our library's heritage of history and knowledge while also carving a new avenue for our library to endure in the ever-changing world we live in."

"We're committed to growing not only our catalog of books for all ages and interests but to creating new programs and expanding on older ones,” Cavin said. “We are constantly thinking of new and engaging ideas and ways to involve the community in everything that we do.”

Spence and Cavin have settled into their new positions with the help of library assistants Candy Scheller and Jessica Lux, who handle circulation and the children’ programs, respectively.

The library has already attracted crowds with its St. Patrick’s Day scavenger hunt, rock-painting event for Earth Day, lava-lamp creation event and a “Coffee and Book” program with Bar Eleven Coffee. The Coffee and Book event took place for the first time last week.

Blackwell citizens were encouraged to grab a drink and find a good book to settle down with.

On Friday, for Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, Blackwell Animal Control Officer Cindy Yinger brought several cats and dogs from the Blackwell Animal Shelter to the library to be adopted. One cat and three dogs found new homes thanks to the program.

The library is also gearing up for its summer reading and food programs.

The summer reading program, open to all ages, will have a kick-off party May 27 and begin June 6. The theme is “Summer Camp.” The library is also bringing back its summer meal program, which will provide free meals to people ages 18 and under. Participants can eat at the library Monday through Friday.

Also in the works for the library is a “Meet the Author” summer special, where local authors – including Jamie McGuire and Susy Smith – will talk about their published works.

The Blackwell Public Library offers a wide range of services, including: printing and faxing, desktop and laptop computers to be used on-site, mobile WiFi hot spots available for checkout and a children's hang-out area with various books. The area also has a Nintendo Switch with the latest video-games, including “Five Nights at Freddy's,” “Smash Brothers” and “Among Us.”

The shelves are stocked with nonfiction, fiction, young adult novels, graphic novels, manga and films for rent, as well as audio books and a complete children’s section downstairs.

The library is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.