BIG PINEY – Adding Doug Loughry, Erin Losik and, most recently, Kim Taylor to the Big Piney Library’s roster means adding three more people who absolutely believe their small community’s library is “amazing.”
Loughry came aboard in late January to fill former staffer Samantha Rise’s position as the children’s program specialist, but when library manager Amy Cahill also decided to move away, it took him only a moment to apply for the job.
Previously, he taught Title I and special education at the LaBarge Elementary School for Sublette County.
“The children’s position – I automatically wanted to do that,” he said. “The progression (to manager) was not anticipated; it just unfolded in front of me and I kept thinking a lot of good things could happen from this.”
Living in Big Piney, population about 500, for more than three years with wife Amy and daughter Brenna, Loughry already knows how important the library is to the community. With shifts in local population and economy and departures of longtime employees and patrons, he realized it might take awhile to get up to speed.
“It has always been a hub of the community, and it feels like we’re getting back there again, and that’s nice,” he said. “The staff is amazing – that’s really what makes this library so special, what makes us to be able to do great things.”
With the changes, Tawnya Miller, Genavieve White, Laci Lancaster and Jen Brown have held down the fort and they each do so much to make our library special, he added.
Just after Loughry arrived, Erin Losik took over the other half of Rise’s position – ordering new releases of DVDs and adult audiobooks and filling patrons’ requests.
Losik was an assistant manager at All-American Fuel and before that a stay-at-home mom “just raising my kiddos” when she saw the position advertised. Losik’s husband Martin grew up in Big Piney and the couple returned to raise their family, Addison, almost 11, and Braydon, 9. Now her goal is to continue to make the library a great place.
“I have the same answer about why I applied,” she said. “I love this library. When we moved back here (11 years ago), my mother-in-law would bring me in here every couple of weeks and we’d just hang out. Every new patron who moves or comes in here gets 10 feet in the door, looks around and says, ‘This is the nicest library.’”
Kim Taylor worked in the Big Piney school district’s daycare for eight of her family’s 12 years here. She lives in Big Piney with husband Darren, daughter Emily, 19, and sons Calder, 16, and JD, 14.
When her job was phased out with education budget cuts, she considered what to do next, not sure she was qualified for a library job but she went ahead and applied.
Taylor started on July 31 and everything moves forward as before with weekly storytimes, after-school programs and visits from elementary classes. Kids’ activities she’s planned for the Big Piney Fall Festival include building scarecrows and she’ll dream up more fun for kids at Halloween and Christmas.
“I try to do as it was done before, try to provide for the kids and serve the kids who live here,” Taylor said. “I’m still learning from week to week.”
Like Loughry and Losik, she is a “library person.”
“I’ve always loved this library,” she said. “I love the atmosphere and the staff is great, very supportive. And patrons think this is the best and most friendly library they’ve ever been in.”
Interestingly, the library staff has noted a shift in patrons – not necessarily seeing a decreased population in the town of 500 – but a changing one nevertheless. Many people have moved away for different reasons
“I know it feels like our community has really shrunk a little bit,” Taylor said of declining student enrollment that led to recent budget cuts.
Loughry said it’s hard to tell exactly how numbers have changed because “we don’t have a gauge; we just guess. People seem to think it’s shrinking, but at the same time, we’ve seen a lot of new patrons.”
“But then new families come in and we’ll figure out their needs for our library,” Taylor said.
The entire library staff’s big project right now is boosting the town’s bigger-than-ever Big Piney Fall Festival, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7. Budd Avenue will be closed for two blocks so visitors can wander around downtown.
“It’s actually amazing – this year we have 30 vendors,” Loughry said, giving Miller the kudos. “Which is a bit unnerving. Four of the vendors are fundraising for school events and we’re hoping a lot of people will come on out.”