Interim director named to library’s top job
by Bill Clough
Oct 10, 2012 | 1858 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cynthia Blatherwick is the new director of the Joe Barnhart Bee County Library. The library board appointed her Sept. 20.
She was hired by the library in 2010, was named interim director last July; she has risen to the library’s top post in about two years.
Cynthia Blatherwick is the new director of the Joe Barnhart Bee County Library. The library board appointed her Sept. 20. She was hired by the library in 2010, was named interim director last July; she has risen to the library’s top post in about two years.
CYNTHIA BLATHERWICK is a tall, thin, energetic and sophisticated young woman — she is 29. She studied ballet for 14 years and has done enough modeling to know she didn’t like it and she cooks Indian subcontinent food.

And, since Sept. 20, she is the director of the Joe Barnhart Bee County Library.

She was named interim director last July, following the resignation of Sarah Milnarich.

“She’s got the confidence; we’re really impressed,” says library board president Margie Awalt.

In an institution that must appeal to a broad range of interests and ages, Blatherwick (an English name) has a Renaissance philosophy: she welcomes electronic books, and yet she is enough of a traditionalist to prefer a fountain pen.

“I went to the Waldorf School for Elementary Education,” the Denver native says. “They taught us to write first with crayons and then with fountain pens. I am more comfortable using them.”

Her favorite is a Sheaffer with an f-tip — medium, and she enjoys changing ink colors often.

The fastidiousness demanded by a fountain pen is evident. Rushing to her office for an interview, she paused en route to square a mouse pad next to one of the library’s computers and then placed the earphones carefully over the monitor so all the computers in a row were uniform.

THE LIBRARY hired Blatherwick as a public services librarian in 2010.

“I sent out applications from Hawaii to Washington, D.C.,” she says. “This place made the best offer.

She first applied for the directorship when Steve Clegg, who preceded Milnarich, resigned.

“I knew I didn’t have that much experience,” she says. “But I wanted to demonstrate I was interested.”

Gaining the library’s corner office in 24 months is all the more remarkable, because the local library was not only her first, but her only job since she graduated from the University of Texas with a master’s degree in information services.

Her undergraduate work was at the University of Colorado, where she studied both art history and Tibetan art. Her father is a software specialist in Denver; her mother is a professor of English and literature at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

NOW, SHE supervises two full-time employees, four part-time employees, a computer technician, a financial specialist, a children’s specialist, a homework center specialist and is seeking to hire a public services specialist.

“We used to call them librarians,” Awalt says with a sigh.

Blatherwick’s interest in libraries began at an early age.

“I often went to the Denver Public Library when I was a kid,” she remembers. “I was in all the summer reading programs. I didn’t stay in them very long, but I was in them.

“And, I was always curious, about everything — from who invented the paper clip to a great love story. So, a library was a perfect fit.”

AS SHE matured, she developed a taste in English novelist Terry Pratchett and Dorothy Sayers. “And,” she adds, “I love novels with three or more narrators.”

Additionally — newspaper publishers take note — she maintains a secret desire to be an editor. “I want to read what other people write and tell them what they’ve done wrong.”

Only a few feet from her office door are aisles containing more than 22,000 books available for the library’s 26,000 registered patrons, a ratio close to one book per person with a library card.

“We’re healthy,” Blatherwick says, “But we need constant weeding.” Such literary horticulture includes repairing books that are damaged.

The average shelf life for novels, for instance, is about five years. Books that have low readership often end up at the semi-annual books sales the library conducts in the spring and fall.

“A library is not a bookstore,” she says, saying that the salient point of a library is easy access to information — many forms: books, electronic books (“books aren’t going away, they just have different covers”), magazines, the Internet.

WHATEVER HER enthusiasm, she is wise enough not to announce any plans until she has studied her new responsibility.

“The library’s been through a lot. It needs some sense of continuity.”

Still, she admits that “once I get my feet on the ground,” she would like to reinstate the library’s book club, using social media — blogs, email, Twitter — not only to generate interest but to maintain that interest.

“I’m dedicated; I learn fast, and I have an enormous respect for the institute of the library,” she says.

Such dedication extends to the corner office. It is utilitarian, almost austere. No personal items in sight.

“This isn’t my office,” Blatherwick explains. “It’s the library’s.

Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet