BOSQUE FARMS — The new director of the Bosque Farms Public Library came to her career a little later than some, but her love of the field is long lived.
After 21 years as a dance instructor, gymnastics coach and preschool teacher for Lee County Parks and Recreation in North Carolina, Toni-Lynn Hart decided to take her life in a new direction.
“I’ve always had the greatest respect for the library. I just think they know everything, so I thought, ‘I’ll do that,” Hart said. “I went back to school and got a degree in library science and information technology.”
Needing to do an internship for her degree and having friends in New Mexico, Hart headed west for an internship at Albuquerque Academy. While there, she learned about the New Mexico State Library’s rural bookmobiles.
“My children were grown and I wanted to come back and drive that big bookmobile,” she said.
After five years of delivering books to rural New Mexicans Hart decided it was time to get off the road.
“We were gone like, you know four nights a week but that was the most amazing thing in the world,” she said.
After she handed in her bookmobile keys, Hart spent 10 years commuting from her Los Lunas home to Albuquerque, working for the Albuquerque Public Library System. She fell into the job with Bosque Farms — minutes from home and fitting nicely with her insurance and retirement benefits.
“This was meant to be. I love it down here,” she said.
Hart says, as a librarian, she loves creating and offering programs for all ages to the community.
She has kicked off a summer reading program for children, teens and adults,
“I’m really trying to emphasize that it’s not just for kids,” Hart said. “It’s for everybody — ages zero to a 110 can sign up.”
She would like to introduce a genealogy program at the library, as a genealogy buff herself.
Hart is also working to create programs for seniors and other first-time computer users.
“I’ve bought some laptop computers so that I can teach one-on-one once we can do that safely,” she said. “There are so many things that (people) have to be able to use a computer to do and they don’t have the knowledge.”
Having a dance background, Hart said she would like to do more music and movement centered programs, maybe integrating it with a traditional story time.
The library is also upgrading its Southwest collection and creating a teen room, she said.
Hart said an aspect of library services she really loves is being able to get materials and information into the hands of patrons who otherwise might not be able to access them.
“Bosque Farms Public Library will use every possible resource that we have to satisfy a patron’s library needs,” she said. “If we don’t have the requested item in our system, we will offer to obtain the item through interlibrary loan. If the item would be a good addition to our collection, we will buy the material.”
Hart also loves seeing the continuity of families coming back to the library for generations.
“That’s what summer reading programs are all about, too. It’s not, to me, about how many books you read in a summer,” she said. “It’s that you came to the library, you connected with it, used the services and became familiar with it. That’s what it’s all about.”
Hart also wants to use the library as a place to raise awareness about human trafficking.
“I hear people say ‘when slavery ended’ and I’m like, it’s never ended. It’s a bigger thing right now that it ever was,” she said.
Hart and a friend from the Navajo Nation are creating a program called “What can we do in the library?” to help raise awareness of human trafficking and provide resources to victims.
“We can do things like strategically place brochures around the library with resources for people in that situation,” she said. “We can offer information about how to learn the signs of trafficking.”
If a person comes to the library accompanied by someone who doesn’t allow them to speak or provide their own information, that is a red flag, Hart said.
“I can tell them I need to speak to the person because the card is in their name. There are ways to approach it sort of gently because you don’t want the victim to experience repercussions,” she said.
The Bosque Farms Public Library is open to patrons and is located at 1455 W. Bosque Loop. Call 869-2227 to check hours.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.