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Library coordinator brought 'em in for more than books

Diane Fink reads to children Nov. 25 at the West Fargo Public Library. Fink, the library’s programming coordinator, is retiring this month. Photo by Carrie Snyder

Learning at the library doesn’t have to include reading.

For 10 years, program coordinator Diane Fink has kept that theory in mind as she plans classes and programs from summer reading to cookie painting, taking the West Fargo Public Library’s programs from just two offerings when she started to dozens of activities each month.

“You have a lot of resources here, but it’s also a place to gather,” Fink said. “People are surprised by how many programs there are, but really, the library is a place where you can socialize and connect.”

Under her watch, programs such as the homework center have grown from 132 students who visited the center its first year, 2006, to the 964 who came through the doors in 2013.

“It’s exciting for me, seeing the kids excited about the library,” Finke said.

And while the city and library continue to grow, Fink knows she could continue to bolster the programs, but instead, she is going to retire this month and let another generation of staff continue the legacy she has built.

“I feel like I’ve grown as the library has grown and the city has grown,” she said. “With each one of these steps, the programs have expanded.”

Dec. 31 will be Fink’s last day at the post of programming coordinator for the West Fargo Library.

The 31-year West Fargo resident started at the library a decade ago after staying home to raise her five children and then working in education.

“As the city grew and it looked like people wanted more from the library, they looked to add programs,” Fink said. “I was more than happy to apply.”

Due the growth and increasing need for children’s services, Director Sandra Hannahs opted to hire for a full-time children’s librarian and filled an adult services librarian position. In the new year, duties of staff will be changing so that staff will work together to coordinate programs and the library’s technology moving forward.

“Diane’s contribution to the library has been immense,” Hannahs said. “Through her imagination and hard work, she’s built the West Fargo library’s event schedule into one of the most exciting programs in the area. Some of the best things she brings to the library are her love of people, her support for literacy, and the joy she finds in her work. We’ll miss her.”

Although the budget, which is approved by the city and library board, includes programming, costs can increase but Fink has always tried to ensure the programs remain free, a principal she expects will continue.

“We don’t want to charge kids for anything,” she said. “We want them to be able to come in and participate. That means so much, just to get together and play. People don’t play enough anymore.”

Fink plans to do some traveling with her husband in retirement and will likely visit children and grandchildren.

“I don’t want to retire and the only place we go is the doctor’s office,” Fink said.

But she won’t be gone from the library long, as she hopes to return soon to the library and take part in their ongoing programs.

“It’ll be fun to be able to attend rather than coordinate,” Fink said.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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