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‘Shoveling sunshine’ fine with Costley

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Librarian finds a home, pursues career in Roswell

As a child, Enid Costley knew she was going to go to college. It was almost a family tradition.

“College was always in the plans,” she said. “In kindergarten, they asked ‘What three things do you want to do?’ One of my choices was college. My grandmother had wanted to be a nurse but couldn’t go to school. My mom was a nurse, and my dad had a business degree.”

By high school, she expected to work with special education students. Her mom inadvertently pointed her in another direction.

“I’ve always liked to read,” Costley said. “When I was in high school, during the summertime my mom said ‘You’re not going to sit around and read all summer. Since you like books so much you’re going to volunteer at the library.’ So I started volunteering at the Onondaga Free Library, in Onondaga, New York and I liked it. They had me shelving books at first. Then I learned book repair, I called for overdue books, and I worked the circulation desk.”

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She loved working at the library, but she still felt pulled to help special needs children learn.

“I didn’t want to give up the whole idea of teaching,” she said. “That’s about the same time they started talking about least restrictive environments for people who had special needs. I came up with the idea of working on library services for special populations.

“How do you get someone who has a problem interested in something that opens doors and takes you places that you can’t go yourself? It allows you to role play, to solve problems without putting you in danger.”

Between her love of books and her desire to serve special needs children, Costley designed her own career.

“My undergraduate degree,” she said, “is in elementary education, and special education, learning disabilities and behavior disorders. When I graduated after getting my master’s degree in library science at Indiana University my emphasis was on children’s services, special populations. I was carving out a new kind of field in library services working with special populations.”

Starting her career before handicapped accessibility was common, Costley sought out a library that supported the special needs population.

“I moved to Hibbing, Minnesota,” she said, “partly because of allergies and partly because the building had to be accessible. I wanted to work with someone that would be open to this.”

Her career plan changed shortly after she moved to Minnesota, but she didn’t object much.

“When I moved to Hibbing,” she said, “I thought I’d be there for three years. I ended up being there for 19 years. A lot of things fell into place in Hibbing. I met my husband there. He happened to be the library director, so when we got married we had to get a lot of people’s permission.”

When her husband, Terry, retired she decided to take her passions to a bigger world.

“A job opened up with the Library of Virginia,” Costley said. “They worked with all the public libraries in Virginia. I was the children and youth services consultant for the Library of Virginia. I did some really nice things there. I’m very proud of what I accomplished both in Hibbing and at the Library of Virginia.

Funding for her program began to dry up. She saw respected peers all over the nation moving on. Costley decided she’d best not wait for the inevitable, and began looking for new work.

“I have to work,” she said, “I started looking for jobs. We decided that we wanted to look for a smaller place than Richmond.”

She learned that the Roswell Public Library was looking for a new director, and liked what she saw.

“It seemed like a really good fit for me,” Costley said. “One of the things that I found appealing about Roswell was how the library fits into the other city departments. It’s different than any other city that I’d been to. It’s a healthier culture. You can partner with the museum or with parks and rec.

“The size of Roswell is nice. That my brother, who lives in Oklahoma, is not too far away was really appealing to me.”

Costley learned quickly that she had some big shoes to fill.

“Betty was here for 30 years and she’s a hard act to follow,” Costley said. “She stamped her name on this place. I want to be respectful of that. You have this building because of Betty, and the library foundation and the Friends of the Library, and some generous people who made donations. Having said that, there are always things that we can improve on.”

Costley is working with a number of organizations, both local and abroad, to improve services. She expects to be working to better serve Roswell for the remainder of her career.

“I see myself retiring in Roswell,” she said. “My husband is involved here, and if you saw how many books we own you’d understand. They’re heavy! We don’t want to have to move them again.

“In Hibbing, we were shoveling snow. In Richmond, we were raking leaves. Here we’re shoveling sunshine. That works just fine by me.”