by marlys good
It’s official. Betty Koller, a familiar face at the Greybull Public Library since she, husband John and kids Michael and Emily, moved to Greybull in 1991, “checked out” of the library effective Tuesday. She volunteered “on and off” since coming to Greybull and took a permanent job in 1997. In 2002 she was named branch manager.
Volunteering and becoming a branch manager were not things she ever dreamed she would be doing. In fact, she admits, “I wasn’t much of a reader until John and I got married; then I learned to love books. Now I think this was where I was meant to be.”
Through the past 24 years Koller’s greatest satisfaction has “been watching people come in who haven’t used the library in a long time; those who rediscover reading.” She mentions a young man who came in and was “always looking at non-fiction books; he didn’t read fiction. Now he has become a true library user. That is my greatest joy; seeing people become true library users.”
Physically the Greybull Public Library hasn’t changed; internally there have been big changes. “We didn’t have any computers yet; they were just beginning to come on the scene. We checked books out with cards, moved them every day. But it gradually evolved and everything is now on a database. Big changes.”
As for programs, “There are the things we do consistently – Storytime, book groups, but we‘ve added more community events, like the Craig Johnson event, what we did for Greybull’s Centennial, and Pie Night, people love that. We wanted to bring the community together, bring them to the library.
“The digital books have changed things; they have opened up new opportunities. We are seeing an upturn of that now. People using their readers are checking books out through the state library system…but we still see the core of readers that just love to hold the book. I think people do both now (digital, regular books).
Her decision to “check out” was two-fold. First, she said, “I turned 65 in February,” and secondly, “My granddaughters, Michael’s girls, 9-year-old Eleanor and 4-year-old Arianna, will be here for two months this summer and I wanted to be able to spend time with them. Not have to worry about a time clock; just do summer things.” (You can bet one of those “summer things,” will be attending Storytime.)
She explained that her son and daughter-in-law, who live in Tucson, are building a house on the South Fork and will be spending summers here in the future. “I want the girls to experience small-town life, ride their bikes, do things they can’t do in a big city. It’s going to be great having them closer to us.”
The soft-spoken Koller knows that she will miss the library, her co-workers and the library patrons. “I definitely want to volunteer after I retire; I want to give back to the community.”