It was a misdelivery of books to a library in a town of the same name that helped Ana Lash land her job as the new director of the Hayden Public Library.
She recently took over the position from Jacquie Boyd, who retired after 25 years as the library's director.
Lash had never heard of Hayden until she received a box of books at her library in Hayden, Ariz., that she hadn't ordered. When it was clear the books were meant for a different Hayden, Lash called Boyd and learned about the Colorado town that had about 400 more people than Lash's desert home.
Two weeks later, Lash spotted the Hayden library director position through a library job listing service.
"Everything just fell into place," said Lash, who was the library director at the Hayden, Ariz., Public Library for eight years.
Although she is in a different place -- she spent all her life in Arizona before moving to Colorado -- the similarities between the two Haydens have been comforting. Like Hayden, Colo., Hayden, Ariz., has a strong mining heritage -- in copper instead of coal -- and like its desert counterpart, Lash's new home is a close-knit family community, she said.
One of the more marked differences -- besides walking into the Hayden High School gym and seeing Tigers instead of Lobos -- is the weather. In Hayden, Ariz., if it snows for just a couple of hours, the schools close, she said.
"Today is just incredible to me," said Lash as she watched big, fluffy snowflakes fall outside her library office window.
Culture makes up the other big difference between the two towns. Unlike Hayden, Colo., her Arizona home was 90 percent Hispanic, said Lash, noting Hispanic culture -- which centers on food, family and music -- tends to be a bit boisterous.
Hispanics may not make up the majority of Hayden, but Lash, who speaks fluent Spanish, has noticed a strong Hispanic presence in Northwest Colorado, particularly in Craig, where she has translated for non-English speakers the several times she's visited the town.
"That intrigues me because of my own background," said Lash, who didn't learn Spanish until she was an adult, even though her mother was Spanish and spoke the language when Lash was a child.
"When you learn another language, it really changes you," said Lash, noting the experience made her appreciate diversity, especially as it relates to library science.
Also helping that process was Lash's participation in Knowledge River, a master's program at the University of Arizona that promotes Hispanic and American Indian students in the library science field. She graduated in the program's first class in December 2003.
One of Lash's two grown daughters soon will be another graduate of the program. Her other daughter has a degree in marine biology and works at the University of Alabama.
Armed with the Knowledge River experience, Lash sees her new job as an opportunity to reach out not only to the Hispanic community but also to others who don't typically spend time at the library.
"My library goal is to go slow and learn about the needs and people ... and draw people in that don't normally use the library," Lash said.
A bilingual story hour or poetry readings may be programs she'll explore, she said.
In addition to addressing diversity issues, one of the more exciting aspects of libraries today is the ever-growing information highway available through the Internet, Lash said.
With that, however, comes the challenge of balancing people's right to information with the need to protect children from inappropriate material.
"You do want to have some protections, but you don't want to infringe on people's right to the freedom of speech," she said.
Although the Hayden library does not have filters on the computers, a new Colorado law suggests public libraries have some filters in place. Lash may consider adding filters and giving patrons the ability to request nonfiltered information, she said.
Overall, however, Lash said she wants to take her time to learn about the community and its library needs while getting to know the longtime library staff.
"I welcome the public to come explore us. ... It would be neat to see some new patrons as well as the people who regularly come here," Lash said.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares, call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org