The City of Trinidad recently appointed Jessica Huffman to take on the role of Library Director for the Carnegie Public Library following Mallory Pillard’s resignation earlier this year.
Originally from Trinidad, Huffman said she graduated from Trinidad High School, then went to TSJC before ultimately going to University of Northern Colorado in Greeley where she majored in English and picked up a minor in Psychology. While in Greeley, Huffman picked up over a decade of experience working in libraries.
“I worked for the High Plains Library District for a little over 13 years,” said Huffman. “I was a library associate for about eight years and for the last five years I was a human resources generalist.
Around the time that COVID-19 hit hard in March, Huffman said her and her husband decided they wanted to move closer to her family in Trinidad.
“We started looking at how we were going to do that and at the same time Mallory, the previous director got hired in Greeley as our library manager,” said Huffman. “That was all about the same time that we were thinking of moving back to Trinidad. The job opened and I decided to apply and now, here I am. It was all really just the right timing for everything.”
Despite a snow storm in her first week and city staff getting quarantined the next, Huffman said transitioning into her new job has been a joy, largely because of great staff and a diligent previous director.
“Mallory set up everything really well,” said Huffman. “I couldn’t be better set up to walk into a position. On top of that, the staff is amazing, and I’ve never seen such a well-oiled machine here. Everybody knows exactly what they need to do and they’re passionate about the library.”
With a love of reading going back to her early childhood, Huffman said her love of libraries goes past the books on the shelf.
“I don’t think I could work anywhere else but a public library,” said Huffman. “I like what a public library stands for: access for all regardless of economic status. It’s about helping others and getting people connected with resources they need. I enjoy letting people know what’s up at the library. I know most people think we just have books, but a library offers a lot of things.”
In addition to a passion for the library, Huffman also shared that her desire to be closer to family also added to the joy of her new position.
“The biggest draw for this position was that I get to go back to my community,” said Huffman, with an emphasis on “my,” to punctuate how great she felt about coming back home. “I get to share my passion with the people I love and grew up with and have known forever.”
The ongoing pandemic caused by COVID-19 has made the quite atmosphere of the library even quieter with services being shifted to curbside help, but Huffman said this has given her and other staff time for introspection to be ready to pave a strong path forward once things begin opening back up.
“I know it’s a really weird time to start a position during COVID-19,” said but it’s giving me some time to sit back and figure out what we want this library to do moving forward.”
Huffman said with so much being done so well, including youth programming done by Phyllis Kilgroe, if anything, she would love to bring even more focus to attracting older kids to the library which is a tough demographic to grab regardless of location.
“Growing up in Trinidad, I really feel we are missing a big portion of the youth,” said Huffman. “We have kids here growing up that do not know how to fill out a FAFSA for going to college and I’d really like to try to figure out ways to provide those kinds of services for them.”
With ideas ranging from partnering with TSJC to set up college prep workshops to hosting job fairs for teenagers and middle schoolers to show what jobs here are available, Huffman said she hopes she can bring some simple programs to the table to try to capture that demographic, which she feels is a worthy task to push for.
“If you get the youth, then you get life long learners,” said Huffman. “I want to help make the youth better and want the library to be a part of that.”
Huffman said she looks forward to some of her best years ahead noting that she is thankful for the opportunity to serve the community as the library’s new director.
“I’m happy to be able to contribute to this community,” said Huffman. “I can’t believe I got my dream job and my family, all at the same time.”