A novel occupation

South Routt librarians live life by the book

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— Mary Jeane Perry and Lexie Iacovetto don't take sick days.

Missing work is not an option for the two women who single-handily run the libraries in South Routt.

The one-librarian towns of Oak Creek, Yampa and Toponas rely on Perry and Iacovetto's commitment to sharing their passion for reading with friends, neighbors and strangers.

Running a library with one person on staff can be demanding, Perry said, but she welcomes every challenge as an opportunity to do what she most enjoys.

"Being a librarian was one of my dreams," she said. "Now I get to live that dream every day."

Perry spends most of her time at the Yampa Public Library, because the library in Toponas is open only on Mondays.

Since she first accepted the librarian position in Toponas in 1978, Perry said she has learned to ride the wave of technology that has gradually transformed the way libraries serve their patrons.

People demand information more than ever, a need she said she is happy to meet.

But technology has left some things untouched.

Both Perry and Iacovetto still work with a card catalog.

The rows of wooden files filled with titles and authors' names serve as a reminder that innovation and progress cannot always replace a system that has worked for so long, Iacovetto said.

"Many of the older folks enjoy it," she said. "You can't complain about something that's reliable."

Iacovetto, 65, works one day a week for Perry at the Yampa Public Library and devotes the rest of her time to the Oak Creek Public Library.

A day at the library can pull her in many different directions, she said, but she always manages to come back to her first love.

"It's the books," Iacovetto said. "I can't get enough of a good thing. I never get tired of them."

The Oak Creek librarian said she enjoys helping patrons find the information they need, but she never misses an opportunity to learn something from them.

She said she recommends her favorite titles to adults and assists children in search of the newest book in their favorite series.

They, in turn, may show her a new site on the Internet, she added.

Iacovetto said she would like to see more middle and high school students take advantage of the library's resources.

No one's literary interests are never unimportant to Iacovetto, who promises to do her best to order or find requested books through an interlibrary loan.

The irony of spending so much time in a library is the absence of time to read as much as she would like, Perry said.

Donated books and ordered materials must always be skimmed and then labeled and catalogued, she added.

"I read a lot of summaries," Perry said. "I'm always reading some synopsis of some book."

Downstairs in the children's portion of the Yampa Public Library, Perry can often be found with her nose in a book.

She looks for books that have not been regularly checked out in a while, and tries to replace them with newer, more popular titles.

"You hate to see them go, but you want to offer these kids something fresh and exciting," she said.

Two books, however, will not be leaving the library anytime soon.

To hear Perry speak of them is to understand why she would not want to work anywhere else.

The leather bound books, "Colorado: 1870-2000" and "Cornerstones and Communities" give readers a look at historic Colorado, including Routt County, through pictures and stores.

Locals will often come to the library just to page through the books' pictures and reminisce, she said.

"They are as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside," Perry said. "It goes to show you that books will never be outdated.

"We'll always have libraries."

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