Garcia gives back with books |

Garcia gives back with books

Theresa Hamilton
Director of Districtwide Services
At 40 years of employment, Roberta Garcia is the longest-tenured employee at Garfield Re-2, having worked most of that time as a library clerk.
Submitted photo |

In the back of a storage closet in the Esma Lewis Media Center at Rifle Middle School, Roberta Garcia has tucked away the old card catalogs that used to be the center of activity in the library. The precisely arranged rows and columns of small drawers once were packed with cards indicating the exact location, the author and title of each volume that was housed in the library. It is now a relic of days gone by that Garcia hopes she will be able to take with her if she ever leaves the school.

Roberta Garcia is Garfield Re-2’s longest-tenured employee, beginning at the former Esma Lewis Elementary school Nov. 1, 1974, as a paraprofessional in the fourth grade. She quickly moved into a reading support paraprofessional role and has been a library clerk for most of her 40 years in Re-2.

“I like my job,” said Garcia surrounded by the new tools of the trade — computers, mobile devices and document projectors. “I like children, and I can’t see doing anything else.”

When she began in the library, books were stamped by hand, cards created and filed appropriately in the card catalog, and return dates were stamped in purple or black ink on a card in the front pocket of every book checked out.

Today, books have bar codes if they are made of paper, and so many resources are now electronic and fit on a single, mobile device. Though she has kept up on the latest technology, hard copy books are still her preference.

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“I have an iPad,” said Garcia. “I use it, but I still believe in books. I am a book person. A physical book is a very good thing to have.”

She added that sometimes, physical books help bridge access issues for both children and adults.

“Not every child has access to a computer or a tablet. We have to keep an open mind and look at the best, most accessible tools available, and that means books and technology,” she explained.

As technology has advanced Garcia feels that her skills have as well.

“When I started, I was young, innocent and naive in a lot of ways,” she explained. “Now I feel very confident in helping students with their reading needs and teachers in finding the resources that they need to support the children in the classroom.”

Garcia has worked under “at least” eight different principals during her time in Garfield Re-2, and as the students continue to stream into the library, the faces seem eerily familiar.

“I’m now working with the grandkids of the kids that I worked with when I began my career.”

Three generations of residents have had the benefit of Garcia’s love of reading, love of learning and love of children.

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