A journey of knowledge Library director in Dolores retires after 30 years of service

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Sam Green/Cortez Journal Carole Arnold greets Reed Wright during her retirement reception. Arnold

When Carole Arnold went to Dolores in 1983, there was not much of a library. Her enthusiasm and dedication led to the modern library that Dolores enjoys today. Arnold is retiring this year. She talked with The Dolores Star about her 30-year journey as director.

How did you get started?

When I arrived I had free time, and was on the library board for a few months when they said they needed someone to build this library, and I said I would love to do that, so I went to work. Our budget that year was $1,200. I investigated how to form a library district and with the support of the town and the school district, we got it done in 1986. Once we had some funding, we just grew and grew, The first grant I wrote was for pre-school enrichment, and we have continued a close relationship with the schools ever since.

Could you share the story of how the new library came about?

We were bursting at the seams, so we started with writing a planning grant, had focus groups, and decided we would ask the voters to expand Town Hall with space for a new library in 2002. We lost that election I think because people did not feel ownership of a library inside town hall. Then the next day, John and Buela Vanderpool came to us and graciously donated the land on the river for a new library, the Beecher property, and the new library project took off. The next step was a lot of grant writing and fundraising for the new building that cost a little over $1 million, but a lot was donated, the land, the ceiling, the floor, the concrete, the furniture, and much more.

Voters passed a small mill levy increase in 2003 that raised $200,000, and we had grants and donations from DOLA, the Gates Foundation, El Pomar, the Ballantines. We could not have pulled it off without the amazing community support.

What will you miss the most?

I really enjoyed the challenge, and I will really miss the wonderful children and people who come in every day. The other day a young man came in and said he remembers me reading stories to him as a child. ... Another man was against forming the library district, and years later he came to me and said we were right about providing a nice library for the community.

Have libraries lost their significance because of the Internet?

Not at all, especially in rural areas where not everyone has a computer or the money for internet connections or to buy books and research material. Libraries are a central place for information, they are a gathering place for the community, a place for children to learn. ... Our system allows our patrons to check out materials from 44 different libraries, and from 740,000 records. Our staff is very helpful with anyone who needs assistance with computers ... I see great things happening here into the future.

What is next?

I always feel like I’m on a journey for knowledge, now I am ready for some life adventure without the stress of a career. I’ve been checking out a lot of hiking books, and I’m looking forward to taking trips with my sister and family. Dolores is my home, and I’m planning to stay.