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New library director sees future of collaborative learning

“I am going to focus right now on making this library indispensable to the community,” says Enid Costley, who became the director of the Roswell Public Library in mid-November. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Enid Costley describes the difficult emotions that change can cause in its initial stages, so the new director of the Roswell Public Library isn’t talking about dramatic shifts in directions right now.

“I’ve seen change happen many, many times. I’ve been through it myself. Staff is going through it and the community is going through it,” she said, while using a visual aid to explain her point. “It doesn’t matter whether I am exactly like Betty (Long) or my own person, they are going to go through this.”

Costley said she knows that the transition probably will bring excitement and energy in time. But, after taking over from Long, who retired August 2016 after 31 years, Costley said her priorities will be getting to know the staff, the community and library policy and procedures.

“I have a learning curve that is like this,” she said, pointing to the ceiling.

Costley joined the library Nov. 13, coming to Roswell with her husband, Terry Moore, from Richmond, Virginia.

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She had served the Library of Virginia as consultant for children’s and youth services for 10 years. Before that, she worked 19 years as children’s librarian at Hibbing Public Library in Hibbing, Minnesota, “a small dot on a good map.” That’s where she met her husband, who was the head librarian when she joined.

Costley who jokingly refers to herself and her husband as the “Moore Costley household” and talks about how they still haven’t unpacked all of their dozens of boxes of books since their arrival in town Nov. 3, does have high aspirations for the institution she now leads.

“I am going to focus right now on making this library indispensable to the community,” she said. “I want the library to be the center of the community, and I am sure other organizations want that, too, but I think the library is an important part of the community.”

She describes modern libraries as collaborative centers of learning where information is created, obtained, shared, tracked, stored and displayed.

While pursuing her college degrees and beginning her career, Costley created her own niche, library services for special needs populations. The career specialty combined early education and special education with library science. She said she thought about becoming a school librarian but decided that it would be worthwhile to provide community support for special needs people by working in a public library.

Some of her prior initiatives include a summer reading program in Minnesota that involved 48 percent of the community and about 38 percent of the schools; a program with Parent Teacher Organizations at public and private schools that brought musical, visual and performing artists to classrooms; a grant that enabled the Hibbing library to become one of the first to install adaptive devices including large screen computers, a closed-circuit TV and a Braille embosser; the first public collection of memorabilia regarding Bob Dillon, who grew up in Minnesota; an annual library day with the Minnesota Twins baseball club; resource hubs in libraries to teach about science, technology, engineering and mathematics; the creation of 50 computer-based lesson plans available to the public; a program run in conjuction with Virginia state park to give nature backpacks to parents and kids that included a free pass to a park as well as activities and information on survival and nature observation; and a “No Kid Hungry” summer food and educational program for youth offered in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that grew to involve 72 libraries in Virginia.

“You feed the mind and you feed the body,” she said. “Our motto was, to be well read, you must be well fed.”

She also created a yuletide festival at the library in Hibbing that she plans to recreate in Roswell Dec. 9, an opportunity for the public to meet Costley and her husband.

A former colleague described some of her strengths.

“She is a talented and enthusiastic advocate for early literacy,” said Ann Henderson, communications manager for the Library of Virginia. “Here in Virginia, she helped promote the importance of reading to young children, the benefits of summer reading programs and the vital role that libraries can play in the lives of children and their families.”

Costley’s first day on the job included meeting with members of the Friends of the Roswell Public Library organization right after her first stop with human resources staff.

Melinda Gonzalez, president of the group, said she found Costley to be “courteous, kind and anxious to get started.”

Officers of the group plan to meet with her again soon during an upcoming board meeting.

“We want to know what her vision is and how we can support her,” Gonzalez said, adding that Roswell could benefit from her husband, the retired head librarian, as well. “We are also trying to snag him for the bookstore.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.