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Librarian reflects on years of service

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Bianca Cheney stands next to a colorful dragon that’s become a familiar sight to young visitors of the Roswell Public Library. Working with youth through programs at the library has been one of her main areas of focus over the years. (Daily Record Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Born in Winnipeg, Bianca Cheney found her path to Roswell when her father was transferred here — he was one of the original 12 members to begin the TMC (Transportation Manufacturing Corporation). Not only would Bianca find her future endeavors here, but Roswell would also benefit from her dedication to service.

When she married, Bianca and her husband, J.P., relocated to Denver for a time. There, in the blustery winds of Colorado, they added two children to their family. One day, however, they received a call that would bring them back to Roswell for good. J.P.’s father phoned to say he was retiring, and wondered if J.P. would like to come home to take up the family business. (Southwest Printers, 110 N. Pennsylvania Ave.) “The call came at a perfect time,” says Bianca. “The kids were the right age to move when it came to school, and we were very excited about coming home.”

As they returned to pick up the mantle of running the print shop, a second career began for Bianca.

She began at City Hall, working there before moving on to the Municipal Court. It was while working there that Bianca was transferred to the Roswell Public Library because they were in need of assistance.

Bianca looked back on her beginnings at the library. “The transfer came at a time when public computers had been introduced to the patrons. Six or seven of them were Apples that no one was really familiar with, and the library needed an assistant who could help the citizens better understand how to utilize and operate the machines.”

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Before everything was placed in the “Google” universe we now use, Bianca would aid patrons with the computers, help students find data they needed in order to complete projects or papers, set up emails and more. “That was my job for the first six years,” she said. “I would sign people in, do the tasks they requested, as well as type resumes for those looking for employment. I was able to learn a great deal on the job, and I was happy that it benefited others.”

There came a time when Bianca noticed a need for other things to be done. So, while working full-time at the library and part-time at the print shop, in three years she had her BAAS (Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences) in hand. After applying for the position, she was promoted to librarian in 2016.

The young adults of Roswell quickly became her main focus. While ordering books, researching and stocking music CDs, audiobooks and DVDs, Bianca also developed programs to bring teens back to the library. “I made sure the programs were fun, and the attendance was always good.” She has a long list of activities — macramé, tie-dye shirts and origami, to name a few. She even brought professionals in to teach teens how to get hired. From resume writing to learning how to save cash, they were also schooled on how best to present themselves to a prospective employer.

Her work with the Roswell Rotary Club is also noteworthy. For a little over 10 years, Bianca has been a large part of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, helping kids from Roswell and other areas of New Mexico spend a year abroad, while bringing students across the ocean who wish to spend time here. “To put it in perspective,” she explains, “this year, we have a young man from Switzerland visiting Roswell and attending Goddard, and an Institute cadet from NMMI who’s spending a year in Sweden.”

This program has the student travel to the U.S. and live with three different families during the year; this way, they’re able to learn more about our culture. Bianca interacts with the students who come to Roswell often, while the others staying throughout the state and parts of West Texas, she sees four times a year. “Four weekends out of the year, we travel to see the kids. Orientation weekend is also a great deal of fun. We get together on a Thursday night and, by Friday morning, the students are all the best of friends, which is extremely great to watch.”

After 10 years of working with the youth exchange, Bianca and J.P. will definitely continue. They’re even planning to head to the Rotary International Convention being held in Honolulu, Hawaii this year. But when it comes to finding Bianca at the library — that time, unfortunately, has passed. With her upcoming retirement, she says the thing she’ll miss most is “helping people.” Yet, when looking at her future endeavors, her lifetime of helping citizens is anything but over.

The project she’s most excited about began while researching a craft idea for teens that involved recyclable materials. She came across a community project where teens collected bottle caps that would be turned into park benches.

The “Caps for Benches Project” was designed for young adults. The teens collect, clean, sort and weigh the caps and lids, while Bianca oversees the operation and teaches the kids about recycling and the benefits of caring for Earth. The company that converts the lids into colorful benches is based in Indiana. When enough lids have been collected, they are taken there and Roswell will be able to pick up the benches earned upon delivery. (The Roswell caps will then be used for the next set of benches, which will travel somewhere else in the future.)

The first to “jump on board” with the idea was All Saints Catholic School. The students worked hard over the summer to begin amassing what they needed. Around the same time, MainStreet Roswell was looking into grants to fund new benches that would be placed downtown. This brought about the partnering of the MainStreet group with the school; the group even went the extra step of volunteering to drive the bounty to Indiana when enough is collected.

Chip Boardman — at Hawk’s Automotive — stores the collection until it’s ready to move, and the city of Roswell Landfill donated boxes for storage and transportation. Already at 850-plus pounds of caps cleaned and sorted, there’s still close to another 500 pounds waiting to be added. With Immanuel Lutheran School joining in, and other local people and companies volunteering their time, Bianca’s excited to see the project grow. Best of all, this will continue, benefiting the city for years to come.

Excited for the future, loving her time as a librarian, Bianca wears with pride her silver pin she just received from the city commemorating her 25 years of service. Summing up the past, she says, “This is a unique community. The people are kind and always help when there’s a need. I absolutely love that about Roswell.”

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