Rhonda Duclo, manager of Hotchkiss Public Library and assistant library district director, is retiring this week. On Jan. 15, she ends a 30-year career of serving and delighting her library patrons in Hotchkiss Public Library.
Probably even the library building, the shelves, the books, the puppets — along with the staff and patrons — will feel something is not quite right after Jan. 15.
Rhonda began her library career in the summer of 1982. The Hotchkiss Library was open only a few hours at a time then. Rhonda was a frequent library patron, her children were in school, and one day she said to the staff, "If something opens up, let me know."
Soon she was at the circulation desk, charging things in and out. It was fun and interesting, she said.
At this time, before the county library district was established, each library was on its own, receiving a little money from the county.
Rhonda delighted in presenting storytimes. Years ago story books were oriented toward mechanics, trucks, tractors, and animals and bears. "The little boys really liked the earthmovers," Rhonda recalled. Today story books are more family-oriented.
The county libraries offer storytimes for babies, tots and preschoolers. It was Rhonda who brought baby storytime to the county libraries. She was visiting her son and his family in Tucson and attended storytime at their library, which offered the baby storytime.
Storytime for babies involves simple board books with one word on a page, such as "cat". The storyteller asks what the cat says and makes rhymes. Baby storytime involves a lot of clapping, bouncing and items babies can touch.
The storyteller for toddlers uses pop-up books and books with sound, such as a fire truck. By three years, the storyteller delights preschoolers with crafts and more difficult stories.
"It's fun to see the children developing," Rhonda says, "seeing them come up to pat the fuzzy puppy in a story. In the preschool activities time I am seeing second-generation children from some families," she said.
Rhonda regularly helps out at other libraries when needed. While she was helping at Delta Public Library a young man in his twenties said to her, "I know you. You used to do storytime in the basement at Hotchkiss Library."
Rhonda Duclo has seen many changes over her 30 library years. She has gone from handmaking catalogue cards, to a computerized system for cataloging cards, to the library district computerizing the holdings of all the county's libraries, enabling each library to have a catalogue of every acquisition within the library district.
Availability of library materials is another area of progress. "Delta County Library District patrons can use their library card at any library in Colorado. We have people come in with their library card filled with bar codes from other libraries. You can order a book or item and have it delivered to the library of your choice.
"We send to other libraries, too. Once in a while we get a request from Denver Public Library," Rhonda said, beaming.
As technological and electronic innovations occur, the library makes them available to its public and holds classes to teach people how to use the innovation. Each library offers computer classes for all age groups and computer skill levels. There are classes on email, Internet, Word, Excel, Facebook, flyers, posters, almost anything people request.
Computer availability and training is particularly helpful for people who are job hunting.
In each library there is a Workforce computer. Available on this computer are listings of available jobs throughout the country, what qualifications are required for the job, how to apply and more. For people who need improved computer knowledge and skills to use the Workforce computer, and for people needing to build skills to get into the workforce, the libraries give free classes. The classes are small. Computer users must schedule the class with the library. A staff member will work with the learner for up to two hours. Classes can run from 30 minutes to an hour.
The library offers another invaluable computer: one compliant with the American Disabilities Act. It has a bigger screen and big yellow keys with bold black letters. It can read a document to the user. The user can speak into the computer and it will type what is spoken. It has a magnifier.
The Hotchkiss library has seven regular computers for library users.
The libraries provide other desired electronic services. If the library subscribes to a magazine, game, e-book, etc. which library users want, using their library card, patrons can place the item on their personal device. E-books and audio books can be downloaded to the user's card also.
When the original Hotchkiss library began, it was part of Memorial Hall and consisted of two rooms and a "dark and dingy" basement where the children's storytimes were held.
"In the mid-1990s the library was really crowded and interest in computers was increasing," Rhonda said. "A group of the Friends of the Library decided we needed more space. We decided to raise money and use the funds to buy a building or build on a lot library board member Dr. Woodrow Brown gave us on Main Street. Architectural students drew up preliminary drawings, but the space on the lot wasn't big enough to meet our needs. We sold the lot and began to look for other places.
"Basically, we had been the rental agent for Memorial Hall. As we continued looking for places to build, the Hall made it very desirable for us to stay here. The Hotchkiss community wanted us to stay at the Hall and the community raised the money for the library to build onto the Hall.
"The people were so supportive. For three years we held Community Carnivals in Heritage Hall at the fairgrounds. The Elks, the churches, 4-H, FAA, League of Women Voters and others set up and ran booths. The carnivals were great fund raisers for the library. We received grants from Boettcher Foundation, Gates Foundation, a Colorado Community Development grant, a good variety of grants. People in the community purchased bricks also."
The grand opening for the expanded library was April 20, 2002. "And we still do the booking for rentals of Memorial Hall," Rhonda said.
Rhonda speaks of the science-based, hands-on program Gadgets and Goo, an outreach program to schools. "I spend a lot of my time taking programs to schools and Montessori. I really enjoy this program. The science programs, book talks and storytime outreach to schools are a special Hotchkiss activity."
After Rhonda retires she will continue to do outreach to the schools, including at least one or more preschool programs every month. She will continue going to day care with programs and to Horizons Care Center twice a month, taking books the residents have requested. She will also fill in for a while when the district director needs her.
Rhonda and her husband Marley Duclo came to Colorado in 1979. Marley is semi-retired, doing odd jobs and computer repair occasionally. The Duclos have two sons: Jay is married, has two daughters and lives near New Castle. Scott is married with two daughters and lives in Tucson.
Rhonda enjoys sewing and crafts and is looking forward to having time to work in the yard. She and Marley will do some traveling and visit some relatives they haven't seen for some time.
A retirement reception will be held for Rhonda Duclo on Friday, Feb. 1, from 2-5 p.m. at Hotchkiss Public Library.blog comments powered by Disqus