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Bayfield library leadership changes
1/31/2013 By: Times staff report
After spending 35 years at the same job, Library Director Donnalee Baxstrom steps down this week. Her final weeks have been spent building shelves and moving books during the library’s temporary closure. “When I started, we worked in a 1,200-square-foot building on Mill Street.” That building now houses Mill Street Drug.
In 1999, Baxstrom convinced the library’s board of trustees to move forward with a mill levy override to raise money for a new library. The 8,000-square-foot building opened in 2004.
“It didn’t take long for us to outgrow the building,” Baxstrom said. “With all of the growth in Bayfield, our library quickly felt full and we knew we needed more people space.”
Baxstrom, who earned a degree in education, says she started working at the library in the 1970s to fill in for a librarian on maternity leave. “She never came back to the job, so I stayed on.” Today, Baxstrom hands the reins over to Sherry Taber, former library director at Fort Lewis College and Durango Public Library.
Taber left the area in 2010, after leading the Durango Public Library through a successful building campaign. “That was my first job as a public library director,” Taber said. Most of her professional life has been in academic libraries, including the John F. Reed Library at Fort Lewis College.
Taber also spent time working at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau and the Alaska State Library. “We have a home in Alaska, and I enjoy living there, but I also missed the Durango area,” she said of her return. “When I was presented with this opportunity to work in Bayfield, I couldn’t pass it up.”
The search for a full-time replacement has already started. Taber, who started working at the Pine River Library earlier this month, says she will stay on board for the next few months until the search is complete.
“Donnalee’s been here for over three decades, and we know it will take a while to find the right replacement,” Taber said. “How do you replace 35 years of experience?”
Baxstrom’s will assist in last-minute details of the library’s expansion and renovation project. The library’s 4,000 square-foot expansion is due for completion in mid-February.
Library trustee Valerie Borge said the Pine River Library District is very fortunate to have attracted an interim director of Taber's quality. “Her experience with Durango Public Library’s building project, in addition to her managerial skill makes her a perfect fit as we wrap up our expansion project and prepare to re-open.” Borge adds, “It's difficult to replace a long-time director; Donnalee Baxstrom contributed so much to bring our library to its present level and Sherry Taber is the right person to help us take our next steps."
The library has been closed since Dec. 24 as crews finish interior renovations. The library is scheduled to re-open in February.