Dedicated Nevada County library staff brings decades of experience |

Dedicated Nevada County library staff brings decades of experience

Today is National Library Workers Day, an annual celebration to recognize all library workers, including librarians and support staff, who make library service possible every day.

Thirty-four people work at the Nevada County Libraries – 28 permanent staff members, three contract workers, and three temporary workers. They are dedicated to their jobs and to serving the public and really do a phenomenal job. I polled all the employees last week about their years of service, and collectively we have worked more than 280 years in libraries.

Rotha Carlson, a library technician in Truckee, takes the prize: she has worked in libraries for 38 years (she must have started as an infant). Teri Rinne, the children’s librarian in Truckee, has worked in libraries for 23 years. Claire Stafford, a library technician at the Madelyn Helling Library, has worked in libraries for 20 years.

At the Grass Valley Library, Tracey Lilyquist (library technician) has worked in libraries for 17 years. We have a number of people in the 10 to 14 year range.

In honor of National Library Workers Day, I wanted to highlight how a few of the staff members came to work in libraries.

Josie Andrews, the branch manager of the Grass Valley Library, is relatively new to our library system — unless you count time in utero. Her mother worked at the Nevada City Library (now the Doris Foley Library for Historical Research) when she was pregnant with Josie. She started working in a library while studying law in Boston and was hooked.

Kim Farnsworth (youth services librarian for western Nevada County) started working at a library in Phoenix when she was laid off from her job in the insurance industry. She thought it would be fun part-time job while she was looking for “real” work. She really loved it and has worked in libraries ever since. After helping the teen services librarian run a gaming program, she knew that it was her calling to work with teens and children.

Vaile Fujikawa (manager of the Collaborative Technology Center at the Madelyn Helling Library) has wanted to be a librarian since she was 20. Her dream was to be a dusty scholar in an archive in Turkey or Lebanon or somewhere, discovering forgotten tomes. She decided that being a librarian was as close as she could reasonably get to being a lifelong student. If her profession involved helping people get the information that they need, then she figured she would always be getting more information and continuously learning, too.

Tracey Lilyquist, library technician at the Grass Valley Library, had a bad experience with a mean librarian when she was a shy third-grader. She refused to set foot in a library again until her senior year of high school, when she interned in her school library with a wonderful librarian. Mrs. Comer was a model of what amazing librarians do for people and Tracey wanted to have that same impact. Tracey worked at a school library years later, earning the nickname “Mrs. Sillyquist” for working so hard to make the library a fun and dynamic place. She brings this same energy and enthusiasm to our library system today.

Due to her love of genealogy research, Alisa Austin (library assistant at the Grass Valley Library) started volunteering at the Doris Foley Library 15 years ago, feeling burnt out by her job in an architectural firm. A day or two later, she was offered a temporary job, which turned into a part-time job a few months after that.

A year later, she started working full time at the Grass Valley Library. Her love of local history and genealogy is still alive and well – her whole face lights up when she is asked a research question in which she can immerse herself.

Alan Archer, the program coordinator for the library’s literacy service, Read Up, applied for a job with the library because it was listed as a “project coordinator,” and he had managed many projects in the private sector. He didn’t know until the interview that the project was the literacy program, but it turned out to be a great fit.

Over the years, the staff of the Nevada County Libraries has had many unique experiences and has the stories to prove it — including giant iguanas, skunks, and bats in the library. I’m proud of their hard work and dedication and hope you will join me in applauding their efforts. Happy National Library Workers Day.

Laura Pappani is the Nevada County Librarian. Visit for more information on Nevada County libraries.

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