Pine Plains: A librarian’s career holds Texas roots

Dee Ann Campbell, the Pine Plains Free Library director, appointed on March 18, stands in front of some of her much loved books at the library at 7775 S. Main Street.

Annie Mazzolli

Pine Plains: A librarian’s career holds Texas roots

PINE PLAINS — For Dee Ann Campbell, the new Director of the Pine Plains Free Library, an early love of books was cemented when her mother drove 35 miles every other week from their Texas home in order to reach the nearest library.

That converted Carnegie building had once been a dark, mahogany-clad bank, smelled of books with plenty of nooks and corners hiding the treasures she would find there, including her favorite, “The Yearling,” which she read at least five times.

As time went by, she continued her love by helping in each of her school libraries from elementary through high school. Her taste matured, encompassing a number of phases from horse books to science fiction to the classics, culminating in a degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

When she and her family were considering a move here, she researched the area and knew she had found a home when she learned that most of the small towns had their own libraries.

Not knowing anyone, she reverted to form and began volunteering in 2021 at the library as a way of getting to know people and connect to the community.

She did so believing that the situation would be very different from Texas where, she said, patrons loved their libraries, but politicians were stingy in their control of the purse strings.

Her faith was justified when Pine Plains recently passed a 70 percent increase in the funds allocated to the library that “confirmed how much Pine Plains loves this library” with residents supportive of adding more programs and resources.

Because the children and senior programs are already strong, she feels the expansions will focus on needs “in the middle” encompassing suggestions from patrons including those from teens who attended a recent job fair. One is a newly implemented “exchange” with English speakers including students teaching and learning from speakers of other languages.

When the budget passed, Campbell was an active library volunteer, working mainly with children, and the library was being run semi-remotely as the previous director Alexis Tackett, also a “Texas girl” was back home helping with a family emergency.

Campbell credits the excellent staff with managing the transition and being so helpful to her as she works to fill Tackett’s “big shoes.” She now “stands on her shoulders” with the support of all, including board members who originally suggested she apply for the job.

She spends much of her time now reading spreadsheets instead of books, but she is fine with that as keeping the library running is something of an extension of of the business she ran where she helped customers to prepare written material from inception to publication.

Although she enjoys all aspects of her new job, her favorite parts are caring for patrons and finding and providing new books. The most complex part involves managing digital books whose circulation has gone up some 30 per cent.

In short, Campbell is a woman who loves her library and is “thrilled with the job!”

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