Clearly, Lea Hart knows libraries. Her resume reflects years of interesting library jobs and incredible experience, from working in the special library of the mining company, AMAX Extractive Research and Development, Inc., to serving as a librarian for the organization that built the Hubble space satellite, Ball Aerospace in Boulder. She received her master's degree in library science from Emporia State University in 1993 while raising a family and working. She has run printing presses and provided public library programming for all ages from babies to college students.Her name can even be translated to the verb "read" in Spanish, although she pronounces it "Lee."
In the past six years, Hart has worked for the Delta County Libraries, and her experience here is also varied, as she has spent time in every library in the district. "I started as a Delta volunteer, then became a substitute. I was willing to do what I needed to get my foot in the door," she explains.
Soon after becoming a substitute in 2009, Hart started to travel around the county to provide story times in each library. She then spent three months substituting in the cataloging department in Hotchkiss, covering for a staff member on maternity leave. Hart eventually moved into an open position managing the Delta Library, then took on Cedaredge as well, becoming the regional manager for the Delta and Surface Creek areas.
Such broad knowledge and willingness to help out where she is most needed has served Hart well, as has her unwavering commitment to the public. She explains, "My focus in libraries has always been empowering people, whether it is staff, patrons, or other team members. Being the regional manager gave me the ability to do that. I felt like I was making a difference."
Recent events have placed Hart into the position of interim district director for the Delta County Libraries. She is working with staff and the board of trustees to ensure that the needs of all library employees are met and that the district continues to offer the high levels of quality programming and services that patrons have come to expect.
Outwardly calm and easygoing, Hart makes light of her experience and drive, saying, "What can I say? I'm a worker bee!"
Visits to Hart's various offices around the library district reflect her peaceable demeanor. Cute kitten calendars adorn walls otherwise holding key district information. However, in much the same way as the calendars casually conceal vital district documents, Hart's affinity for soft, helpless creatures belies a woman with a powerful work ethic, a keen sense of right and wrong, and an intense compassion for her staff and her community.