Jane Kelso has a gentle, quiet way about her in almost everything she does. She brings this calm manner to the way she leads the staff of Paonia Library as manager, the way she responds to patrons at the circulation desk, and the way she introduces children to books during weekly storytimes.
"Storytime has been the biggest pleasure through the whole thing," Kelso smiles. "You see these kids grow up and you get to be a part of introducing them to reading. I think my job was to make it fun."
Kelso has resided in the Crawford area for 27 years and began working for the library district in 2004. At that time, the Paonia Library was located on Grand Avenue, in the heart of downtown.
"The library was part of the main street scene then," Kelso reflects. "The initial move to the new location was the biggest change that I have seen during my time here. The community really came together to make it happen. There was a ton of fundraising and so many volunteers that helped with the move."
Myrna Westerman was the manager of Paonia Library at that time and a very important mentor to Kelso. "When I was manager, I felt very confident leaving things in Jane's hands," Westerman reflects. "During the building project, I often relied on her to keep the library operating while I was at various meetings and fundraisers. I am not at all surprised that she was made the manager and has handled that responsibility so well."
Kelso stepped into the role of manager in November 2015. "It's been a great quantum leap in learning for me," Kelso says. "The best part has been being a part of building a really fantastic team in Paonia, where everyone is a key player."
Kelso's co-workers share a very high regard for her and many fond experiences working with her. "Jane was new at the Paonia Library, in the cramped downtown location, when I was hired," says Laura Lee Yates, Paonia Library staff member. "I always thought we'd retire together! Working with someone as dedicated as Jane has always inspired us to our best work."
Kelso works amidst partially cleaned out filing cabinets and scattered boxes and she prepares to leave her office in good shape for whoever might fill the manager position next. Interviews are still underway and Kelso is a part of the interviewing committee that will select a new manager. "Jane has set a high bar," says Yates. "She will be very hard to replace."
Many library staff members agree. "Jane's warm smile and kind demeanor has brought light to the community," says Sarah Pope, Hotchkiss Library staff member. "We will miss her, but wish her the best in her new adventures."
Kelso's next chapter in the book of life will take her to rural New Hampshire, where she has family, including a new grandchild on the way. Kelso's dear friends and co-workers here in Delta County, though sad to see her go, take joy in knowing she will be enjoying time with her family.
"I can just picture her reading stories and putting on impromptu puppet shows for her grandchildren," smiles Lea Hart, district director of Delta County Libraries, with just a hint of sadness in her eyes.
The Friends of Paonia Library, along with library staff and the community, will honor Kelso and her many years of service and send her off with well wishes at their annual potluck on Saturday, March 17, starting at 4 p.m.