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New children’s librarian excited about programming

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Juno Ogle Photo Tracy Frie, new children and youth librarian at the Roswell Public Library, stands next to a new mural by Tasia Ramage in the children's department. Although the children's department is not yet ready to reopen, the summer reading program will return with activities each week in June and July. Registration begins June 1.

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The children’s department at the Roswell Public Library won’t be open until possibly this summer, but nonetheless, the new children and youth librarian is excited about the potential for bringing back programming to the library.

The pandemic and a broken pipe that caused a flood in June have kept the children’s department closed to patrons for more than a year, but the city is targeting this summer for the work to be completed, Library Director Enid Costley said Tuesday.

Even with the department inaccessible to patrons, the library will be starting its summer youth reading program “Tails and Tales” with weekly events in June and July. Registration begins June 1.

The activities will mostly be conducted outside and include creating tie-dye shirts and STEM activities such as solar oven cooking.

Children will be able to choose a prize each week they check out books, and those who complete the six-week program will be entered into a raffle for a grand prize.

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An adult reading program with prizes will also be offered this summer. More information on both programs will be posted on the library’s Facebook page and in the library.

Even though programming will be limited while work is finished on the children’s section, Tracy Frie is excited to be planning for more. This is her second week as librarian for children and youth.

“I think it’s because of her expertise and wealth of experience that she brings from her background that she could hit the ground running,” Costley said.

“I like working with kids. I’ve done it before and it was an opportunity to be a little more creative than where I was,” Frie said.

Frie was most recently circulation director at the library in Hobbs. She said she missed being involved with library programming, though, and that’s what attracted her to the position in Roswell.

Frie started in library work in San Diego, California, where her husband was stationed while in the Navy. She’s worked in public and school libraries in San Diego and in Virginia, where she actually crossed paths with Costley.

They didn’t know each other then, but at the time, Costley worked for the Library of Virginia, providing training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programming.

Frie was branch manager of a library in Virginia and worked with the youth services programming.

“We did the parades and Dr. Seuss nights and family fun nights, so we were doing a whole lot of programming,” she said.

She and her husband, who is now retired from the Navy and law enforcement, moved to Hobbs to be closer to a son. Frie stays in Roswell during the week and returns to Hobbs for the weekends, she said.

Aside from the summer reading program, Frie is making plans for programming centered on Dia de los Muertos and Christmas.

“We want to start up story time, but we’re just a little hesitant as far as space but we’re trying to figure out a way to do it because parents have been asking about it,” she said.

Story time was usually conducted in the Malone Room, but it is also undergoing some work.

Frie is looking forward to working with the Roswell library’s two STEM instructors on programs and said she’d like to incorporate some of the activities she did in Virginia.

“I would like to see a dance party for the toddlers, the preschoolers, because they would enjoy that,” she said.

Another program was called Masterpiece Makers and introduced children to artists like Michelangelo and then had them create their own art. A Lego club and book clubs are other ideas she’d like to bring to the Roswell library.

She’d also like to offer programming for teenagers.

“I know that’s always a challenge to get the teens in the library, but hopefully in the future we can get a teen advisory group where they can come in and help and also discuss things that they can do in a library,” she said.

It will be some time before the children’s department is open — city staff has targeted July 1 for the work to be completed, Costley said.

The library’s restrooms, which took much of the damage from the flooding, are still under construction.

“I really don’t want to open up the children’s area until the bathrooms are there,” she said.

In addition, now that walls have been repaired, repainted and baseboards installed, shelving will need to be reinstalled for the children’s safety.

“We still have shelving that is leaning against other shelving and shelving that needs to be moved back and affixed to the wall,” Costley said.

Even after the work is completed, the children’s department is slated for more change. Last week, the Roswell City Council approved the use of the remaining $103,567 of the 2018 General Obligation Bonds to create an interactive learning environment.

Costley is working with the Burgeon Group, a Phoenix-based company that specializes in creating learning materials for public libraries. The Roswell Public Library would become the first in New Mexico to become a Burgeon library, Costley said.

Plans include an interactive display for preschool children about wetlands that continues the theme of the koi pond painting by artist Tasia Ramage on the floor along the windows of the children’s department. Ramage also recently completed a mural depicting a waterfall scene in the department.

Other interactive displays that are planned with Burgeon would focus on Roswell culture and industries such as agriculture, oil and gas.

Other changes are in store or have been recently made throughout the library. Tuesday was the first day the library has opened fully. Prior to this week, a staffer — usually Costley — monitored the front entrance and a limited number of patrons were allowed in at a time with masks required.

Following the state’s adoption of new mask guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, the library will no longer require masks to be worn by patrons. Staff are not required to wear them, either, although Costley said she has asked staff to wear them when in the public areas of the library. There is no longer a staff member monitoring the entrance, either.

Other new staff members, both full-time and part-time, are on board, including two who are fluent in Spanish, Costley said. Another reference librarian, Tiffany Rockwell, will start later this month. A recent graduate of Louisiana State University, she has experience in coding and technology and will provide training on a planned computer system upgrade.

Even with the new members, the library staff won’t be up to its pre-COVID numbers, but Costley said the library is learning to work lean. For example, instead of four reference librarians, there will now be two with two reference assistants who can answer simpler questions. Some jobs have been consolidated into others and staff members are being crossed-trained to help cover when someone is sick or goes on vacation, Costley said.

“We’re pretty excited that we’re getting a very robust experience in our staff and I think that will benefit us all,” Costley said.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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