For almost five years, 30 year old Chelsea Lyons has been with the Socorro Public Library and is currently the Library Director. A structure that has evolved for over 118 years, once a private residence as well as a church, Lyons is part of a long line of people to oversee the facility. El Defensor Chieftain visited her office to learn more.
Question: Are you born and raised in Socorro?
Answer: No. Born and raised in San Bernardino, California. Q: What brought you to Socorro? A: My father, Tom. He retired after working at Plant 42 Air Force Base as a firefighter. A close friend had moved here and my dad decided why not try something a bit less chaotic than Southern California and bought property. I was going through working on my masters degree at Drexel University in Library Information Science in San Bernardino and also overseeing nine library facilities as a regional manager. It was really hard to balance time between work and school so my dad said ‘come on down, they’re hiring in Socorro.’
Q: How did the hiring process work?
A: At the time Paula Mertz was retiring as library director and Donald Padilla was stepping into her position so I started as an Adult Services librarian. I took over as director when he retired.
Q: What are your day to day responsibilities?
A: It begins by coordinating with our staff of seven. Overseeing that everything is in working order, paying the bills, approving orders, organizing events with groups in the community. Right now we’re focusing on the census. There are also ten computer stations as well as bilingual studies classes, e-books, movies, painting classes, SAT prep and a meeting room for community organizations to use. It is various hats you have to put on. Basically if you want to know something you come to the library so we want to provide that service.
Q: Have you noticed a drop off in library interest as the digital age progresses?
A: Not really. We have to change of course which is the benefit of e-books. So we may not physically see them in person but people are still reading all the time. The patronage hasn’t decreased so much as changed. Plus our special events really bring people in to the library.
Q: What type of similar working experience did you have in San Bernardino before coming here?
A: In various roles for roughly seven years. I had one stretch with a library for about four years which was the longest before here in Socorro.
Q: What is it about the library field that drew you into turning it into a career?
A: My mom Cindy was an educator and when I first went to college I had the mindset that I was going to be a teacher. I spent time getting hands on experience in classrooms and, while I wanted to teach, I found that teaching and working within the confines of school districts can be very limiting. There wasn’t enough flexibility of what you could teach. It was more being told what to teach. Beginning teachers are also constantly moved around from grade to grade. It was a volatile atmosphere to me. So I decided to switch gears and go into the less formal education side having always loved libraries myself.
Q: Did you feel any level of pressure from your parents with your mom having worked in education to get into that field?
A: It certainly wasn’t pressure per say. But I was involved with my mom’s career being that her schedule allowed the kids to be picked up from school and do extra curricular activities certainly exposed me to the benefits of working in education. I got to know the teachers and was just drawn to that and finding out the benefits of furthering ones education.
Q: Now that you are here in Socorro, tell us about your family?
A: I’m engaged to Jason Jones who is the Executive Officer for the Seventh Judicial Court. I also have an older brother,Vince. He still lives in San Bernardino works in security.
Q: What was the transition coming to Socorro from San Bernardino?
A: It was difficult at first. I was initially living in San Antonio and the commute to work was far easier than in California. Going from bumper to bumper traffic to stopping on a dirt road for antelope was certainly different. Also getting to know the inner workings of how a smaller city operates as opposed to a larger one took some time.
Q: Do you miss home?
A: I miss it at times. Of course we all have roots. My previous employer reaches out to me almost every year since I’ve left to come back. I miss the variety of things you can do all around. But for me I don’t know if I would ever call any place home. Once you have different experiences and meet new people it’s hard to say anywhere is where you will spend the rest of your life. Even when I go back to California it doesn’t feel like home per say. But for now I know that Socorro feels like home.
Q: A few random questions, what is your favorite movie?
A: It’s tough to pick one. I’ll go with “Lonesome Dove”. My dad always had us watch that growing up. It’s funny and encompasses life, friendship and loss in a time frame that we weren’t a part of.
Q: What is your favorite type of music?
A: I like a lot of 80’s and 90’s rock because I grew up with it. Stone Temple Pilots was big. The Cult, Bush, Red Hot Chili Peppers. That was my youth growing up in Southern California and I never grew out of it.
Q: As library director we have to know, what is your favorite book?
A: Oh my gosh, that is way harder than picking a movie. I think that I’ll go with my favorite book that I read recently which is “The Wanderers” by Chuck Wendig. Our book club read the book and not one person I have recommended it to has said they didn’t like it. That is just an interesting read with a lot of elements you wouldn’t expect.
Q: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A: It would have to be somewhere warm because I hate the cold. I guess Phuket, Thailand. I vacationed there in 2014 and it is so beautiful plus the people are nice and the food is great.
Q: If there was something you could change about Socorro County, what would it be?
A: We need more viable employment. Whether that’s bringing in industry or creating local infrastructure. We need to give the youth here more of a reason to stay here and value getting an education instead of wanting to leave.
For newcomers to Socorro or those looking to pick up a book, The Socorro Public Library is open six days a week. Monday-Thursday from 9 to 6, Friday 9 to 5, and Saturday 9 to 2. Books are checked out for three weeks with an opportunity of two renewals with films checked out for one week with one renewal. Patrons can get 15 items at a times and all that is required is a viable address. A new family yoga class will begin in September. If you have any questions stop by Chelsea’s office to help you get started.