Capellen chosen to oversee libraries

by karla pomeroy

The Big Horn County Library System has a new director in a familiar face as the Big Horn County Library Board selected interim director Donna Capellen to replace Nancy Venable who resigned earlier this year.

Chairman Mary Bair said they received five applicants and interviewed two. She said they offered the position to Capellen in a letter on Sept. 19. Capellen accepted on Sept. 23.

“I would say the major contributing factor is her experience with the county system. We had excellent candidates,” Bair said, adding that the input the board received during the search process was to consider local people so “we chose to interview the local candidates.”

“We hope this will make it a smooth transition and move the library system forward. We have good staff and great facilities and public acceptance of how important the libraries are,” Bair said. She added that the board appreciates all the support the commissioners have provided the libraries.

“I see a good future for our libraries,” she said.

Meet the new director

Capellen has worked for the Big Horn County Library system in the Lovell Library for the past 15 years, the past four years as branch manager.

She attended school in Deaver-Frannie through the eighth grade when her family moved to Cody where she graduated high school. She attended Casper College before marrying her husband Jerry. They moved to Greybull for his work and then later to Lovell.

She said she began working in Lovell on Fridays when a job opened up. “I love libraries. I’ve just worked my way up,” she said.

Capellen said she see things running well with the library system and does not expect any changes. She said there is a vacancy at the Lovell library and she will also have to appoint or hire a new branch manager in Lovell.

As director, she oversees operations for all the libaries in the county, the main branch in Basin, the other large branches in Greybull and Lovell, along with the branches in Deaver and Frannie. They also provide a collection to Burlington and provide donated books to Byron.

She said she will be in Basin about three days a week and will be visiting other libraries frequently. “I’ll be out and about but this (Basin) is the main library so this is where the director’s office will remain,” Capellen said.

Commissioner’s thoughts

Jerry Ewen, chairman of the Big Horn County Commission said, “We believe the new board has been diligent and thorough in the process of advertising, accepting applications, and selecting the most qualified candidate for the position of permanent library director, and the Commission is completely supportive of Donna Capellen to fill that position.

“Donna has many years of experience in the Big Horn County library system, and has on at least two occasions stepped forward to act as temporary director when the county was without a director. Each time, she has proven herself by doing an excellent job and we have confidence that she is the best choice for the county.”

He added, “We are grateful to Donna and our new library board for guiding the library program forward through what has been some trying circumstances.”

As of July 1 of this year, the library finances were moved to the County Clerk’s office, and Ewen said this is working out “well for all concerned as it has removed a great deal of work and stress from the staff of the library, so the library board and the new library director can now focus on what they do best, and that is to run the library.

“It is important to note that, though they are no longer doing the accounting or the payroll, they are still responsible for preparing and maintaining their budget, the same as all other county departments. We have heard from the people of the county regarding how important the libraries are, and we are looking forward to continuing with the same great tradition of service to our citizens that has made our library system such a vital part of the culture in Big Horn County.”