New director takes helm at Winters library

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Courtesy of Editor, Bill Hancock: and the Runnels County Register

May 21, 2019 was a terrible day for the Congdon family and the Winters Public Library. Valerie Congdon, who had taken the reins as the director of the Winters Public Library died suddenly from a heart attack on that hot summer day. Congdon had made great strides in modernizing the library and creating programs. She had the vision to help the library reach its full potential. In an interview with the newspaper last year, Congdon commented on joining the library, “I saw an opportunity to get involved with the community and jumped in. The library has great people working for it and a great board,” Congdon said. She was also aware of the challenges facing the library, ”“We have programs that we want to start for children and adults,” Congdon said. “We also have some work we’d like to get done, such as new carpeting and a new air conditioner.”

This year, perhaps the most expensive part of Congdon’s and the library board’s goals, getting a new air conditioner, was realized. The library, through the generosity of the San Angelo Health Foundation, was able to put in a new air conditioner and get a lot of other work done as well.

Sally Spill, is on the library board. Spill is a wealth of knowledge, a veritable walking, talking, living history of the library. She has been part of the library since she was a child in the 1950s and probably has a modicum of ink in her blood. Spill and another board member, Brenda Bahlman, introduced the new library director, Susan Minzenmayer, to the newspaper on December 19th. Minzenmayer started in July, approximately 2 months after Congdon’s tragic passing. Spill said that Minzenmayer is a worthy successor to Congdon, whose shoes will be hard to fill, “We were going in a good direction when Valerie passed away suddenly in May. She was doing great things and her death kind of put us in a tailspin. The librarian from the Winters Elementary School, Shannon Daniel, stepped in and really helped us out. Valerie’s family named the library as a memorial donation Susan has done a great job since she became the director.”

Minzenmayer is keeping alive the legacy of previous library directors from Congdon to the library’s first director, the legendary Myra Glover, who is still, years after her own passing, revered and held in the highest regard.

Minzenmayer has started some new programs at the library, “We started craft nights and they have been popular. We had 20 people at the candy making class. Susan’s Story Time is held one Saturday every month. We post the information on our Facebook page, ‘Winters Public Library.’ The kids who come to the story time really enjoy it. It lasts about an hour and during that time we do a craft as well as read a story. It’s usually pre-k, kindergarten and children around those ages. I felt the library needed some programming such as children’s programs.”

Bahlman talked about Minzenmayer’s goals, “Susan wants to start more programs and bring in families. She wants to take the library to the next level.”

Minzenmayer says that the library played a role during the recent Christmas Light Parade in Winters, “We wanted to make the library a destination in our parade.” Spill says that that library’s role was a success, “We had an open house during the parade. We had people in and out of here doing crafts. We had a parade watch party. We sponsored one of the girls in the parade, Peyton Curry. Her family has been a big part of the library.” The library also did photographs for people during the open house on the afternoon of the parade.

Spill says that attendance in the programs has been growing, “We’ve had great participation. On average we’ve had about 50 kids each time.”

Bahlman, Spill and Minzenmayer all agree that community support has been crucial to the success of the library. Bahlman said that the grant from the San Angelo Health Foundation was key, “They gave us a $20,000 grant. They really came through for us and without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We also received a grant from the Dollar General Foundation. We were able to purchase new air conditioners, because the old a/c was going out and without the new a/c, it would have been unbearable here in the summer. We bought LED lights and did some work in the front. Tom Early is president of the San Angelo Health Foundation and he was wonderful.”

Spring Market in Winters donated gift cards so that the library could buy snacks for the kids.

Minzenmayer has also brought in other help, “We brought in community service workers. They are low-level offenders and help us with cleaning and reshelving books.” In October the library started bringing in a legal aid once a month and will continue that program.

Bahlman says that the library is carrying on the tradition set by Myra Glover. The library currently has almost 10,000 titles.

Minzenmayer is working to bring in even more new programs to the library, “I’m looking into ways to get a writing program going. I want someone to come out and do a writing workshop. It would be an author-speaker type series.”

As far as facilities, Spill says that there is still more work to be done, “We spent most of the grant money on the a/c, LED lighting and work on the front but we still need to replace the carpet. We’d also like to put in a sitting/reading area. Our programs are strong and we are fortunate that we get a lot of memorials from local people who pass away.”

Minzenmayer is working to get a Valentine’s Day oriented craft night in February. The library will post the information on their Facebook page.

Currently the library offers the following services, in addition to checking out books; books on tape; movie rental; computer services; printing and copy services; legal aid.

Minzenmayer says that the library is open to suggestions for programs. They currently have over 300 followers on the Facebook page.

The library hours are: Monday, 9-3; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday Noon – 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. – Noon. The library is closed on Friday and Sunday.

The Winters Library Board of Directors are; Rhea Parramore; Nancy Spill; Jane Allcorn; Brenda Watkins; Sally Spill; Cheryl Bryan; Rhonda Neal; Brenda Bahlman; Jo Brakke; Becky Airhart.

If you’d like more information about the library or have suggestions, you can contact Minzenmayer at (325) 754-4251.