Meet your new Glenwood Springs library manager
After honing her librarian skills in one of the most highly regarded public library systems in the country, Laurin Arnold is busy applying her knowledge as the new Glenwood Springs Branch Library manager.
Arnold, who spent the past 12 years in the 22-branch Columbus Metropolitan Library System in Ohio, has been on the job in Glenwood for a little over a month.
She was selected to succeed former Glenwood branch manager Sue Schnitzer, who left at the end of last year to take a manager’s position with the Memphis, Tennessee, public libraries.
Though she came from a big-city library system, Arnold said she was attracted not only to the area but by the small-town, personable approach that the Garfield County Public Libraries took in interviewing and ultimately hiring her.
“I could tell that Jesse and Amy were really passionate about the libraries and really invested in it, and that means a lot to me,” Arnold said of Garfield Library District Executive Director Jesse Henning and Assistant Director Amy Shipley.
Coincidentally, Henning also came from the Columbus area, working in the neighboring Westerville libraries before heading west and eventually taking the executive director’s position for Garfield County Libraries.
Arnold had even done some work with Henning’s wife, Carrie, on the Columbus area Reference and Information Services Division Action Council, but she didn’t know Jesse directly.
Aside from the mountains and the awesome beauty of western Colorado, Arnold said she was also attracted by the dedicated staff at the Glenwood Springs branch and the other district libraries.
“The fact that they were involved in my interview is another thing that really impressed me and that they have a say in who they get to work with,” Arnold said. “That’s a great mindset for the administration to have.
“Obviously, they are very dedicated and work very well together, they enjoy their jobs, and you can see that in the way people respond to the libraries,” she said.
After earning her bachelor’s degree at Ohio State University and a master’s of library information science from Kent State, she started off as a page in the Columbus Libraries, working her way up the ladder over the past dozen years.
Most recently, she was the adult services librarian at the Martin Luther King Jr. Branch Library in downtown Columbus.
“It’s right in the middle of the city, and has a very diverse clientele,” she said of her move from a big-city library to the Glenwood Springs Branch.
Because of its downtown location, though, the Glenwood library has a lot of those same qualities, Arnold observed.
“I like the size, and it’s got a good feel to it,” she said. “It’s very important to have a walkable location like this, which adds to the feel of things and makes it more of a community space. I do think that’s important.”
A vacation in Colorado last summer led Arnold to begin looking for library jobs in the state before learning of the Glenwood opening.
She said she’s also excited about working in a relatively new facility, compared to the MLK Branch that was actually dedicated by the slain civil rights leader’s father, Martin Luther King Sr., in 1969.
Having lived through library budget cuts when the Ohio state Public Library Fund faced shortfalls following the 2008 recession, Arnold said she can relate to the recent round of cuts that led to layoffs and service reductions in the Garfield County Libraries. Those cuts were brought on mostly as the result of a significant drop in oil and gas property valuations in recent years.
“I know that the staff here has been through some hard times,” Arnold said. “That’s always difficult, not only for those that are laid off but those that are left behind.”
But she stands ready to help the Glenwood library get “back in stride,” and even led her very first children’s story time on Tuesday.
A few small programming changes are already in the works, including adding an art element to the “after school at your library program” in conjunction with local arts organizations.
The spring lecture series got off to a successful start in March with a talk by Ute Indian historian Roland McCook, and singer-songwriter Almeda Bradshaw will be sharing cowboy songs and their stories on April 25.
Arnold is single but does have a dog named Luna Lovegood, after the Harry Potter character.
“I’m a librarian, so it’s sort of required that your pets be named after a book character,” she said.
Another passion of Arnold’s is working to make sure health information is more available and understandable.
“It’s important to connect the community with accurate, up-to-date, reliable and easy to understand health information,” she said. “That’s something down the road that I would like to work on for this community.”
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