'Bookworm' Retires From Library Board

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Lifelong reader Barbara Taenzler has been a fixture at the Glenwood Public Library for many years. In fact, she has read so many books that she keeps a green, wire basket at her house full of index cards that denote what books she has read.

“I don’t have favorite books, I have favorite authors,” she said. “I find a favorite author and then I read everything by that author.”

Some of those favorites include Maeve Binchy, Debbie Macomber, Michael Connelly and Robin Carr.

Taenzler’s spent so much time in the library checking out books that she now takes index cards with names of authors on them when she goes to the library.

Taenzler has not just been a patron of the library, however; she has also been a faithful member of the Glenwood Public Library Board. She started with the board in 1977 and stepped down on July 1.

“It has been a real privilege,” Taenzler said.

“When a bookworm like me was asked to be on the board, that was really something; to combine my love of books with the workings of the library was really cool.”

Taenzler said her way of doing things was influenced by a previous longtime board member, the late Willard Stivers.

“Willard Stivers was kind of my mentor,” Taenzler said. “He had a level head and a diplomatic way of doing things.”

Taenzler’s love of the library extended to getting the word out about using the library, something she started early in her tenure.

“I asked (then-library director) Genny Curry if she cared if I started a book review column,” Taenzler said. “That was in October 1977.”

That book review column is published in The Opinion-Tribune, and Taenzler said she has no plans to stop reviewing books.

“We go to state conferences, and some of these poor librarians can not get a line in their local papers,” Taenzler said. “We have been so blessed.”

While Taenzler has recommended and reviewed hundreds of books to people, she credits the library itself for getting people in the doors.

“The library is so good at getting people to read,” she said. “They have their great book club, and they are always willing to help get books into people’s hands.”

She has seen a lot of changes to the library throughout the years.  The library itself even looked different in 1977.

“It was just the building back to where the new edition is,” Taenzler said. “The dominant viewpoint was to maintain quiet in the library.”

She also said books were checked out differently back then.

“The library books all had cards in them, and you checked out books through the cards,” Taenzler said. “The racy books, they were marked with a red tip and kept under the desk. If you wanted one of those books you had to ask the librarian.”
“Racy” is a very relative term.

“‘Tobacco Road’ I know was one,” Taenzler said.

“It might have had a fleeting reference to unmarried sex or something, but nowhere near what it is today.”

According to the book lover’s website Goodreads, “Tobacco Road,” by Erskine Caldwell, is the story of a family of destitute white sharecroppers who are preoccupied by their hunger and their fear they will someday descend to an even lower rung on the social ladder.

The library today has a much different atmosphere, one that Taenzler embraces just as she did the old library.

“The library has changed considerably, and I believe the library’s function is going to change all the time. We have computers in the library now, and they are always busy,” Taenzler said.
Along with the computers, there have been several other forms of technology come into the library through the years, some of which are no longer there.

“They used to have video tapes. Those are now gone,” Taenzler said.

One thing that hasn’t gone from the library, however, is the collection of books, which Taenzler checks out regularly. She passionately encourages everyone to do likewise.

“I truly believe that parents should read to their kids,” Taenzler said. “I really think that’s important. I had a son who didn’t like to read, and a psychologist that I worked for said, ‘let him read anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s the newspaper, or a magazine. He can read other things.’
The psychologist, it turned out, gave her good advice.

“All four of my kids are big readers now,” Taenzler said proudly.

Taenzler has many fond memories of serving on the library board, and some of the most memorable were also the biggest events.

“My favorite memory was probably the ribbon cutting on the library addition. The addition happened in 1983. That was a huge project,” Taenzler said. “We were so fortunate on the donations, and the architect really tried to keep the Carnegie look.”

She was also grateful the expansion provided much needed space to expand the collection.
“It opened up so much room. Before, the bookshelves were so narrow you could hardly walk between them.”

Her other favorite memory of serving on the library board was the opening of the renovated children’s library.

“Every Wednesday the kids get out of school early, and they say that every Wednesday that room is full of kids. That is just great,” Taenzler said.

She also credits the staff for bringing great programs to the library, and the Friends of the Library for making some of those programs possible.

“They have this teen lock-in that they’ve started,” Taenzler said. “I think that is such a neat, fun program. I would have loved that when I was a kid.”

“The Friends have been such a wonderful addition,” Taenzler continued. “They are a bunch of hard-working gals.”

Taenzler served on the board under five different library directors: Anna Mickelwait, Genevieve Curry, Denise Crawford, Angela Campbell and Jenny Ellis.

Denise Crawford, director from 1992 to 2011, praised Taenzler for her dedicated service to the library.

“She’s very dedicated,” Crawford said. “She always thought things through and tried to do the right thing for the library. I enjoyed working with her for all those years.  I always felt she was behind me in whatever I could do for the library.”