As Blanco residents know, a lot goes on in this small town. Go out of town for a week or two, and you have a lot of catching up to do when you get home. So if you haven’t been by the Blanco Library for a few weeks, drop in and see the new director of library services—Trisha Campbell. And if you’ve never been to the library, Trisha will be even more glad to see you. “I want more people to be drawn into the library,” she said in a recent interview; “people who have been turned off by the library at some time in their lives. Just give us a try.”
Although Trisha was more anxious to talk about the library than about herself, she was willing to share the interesting fact that, although she is an Austin native, she has three family members buried in the Blanco Cemetery. Her great-grandfather, Joseph Mifflin Campbell, married Pauline Lindeman, one of the daughters of the original settler of Blanco. They had eight children, but, after his death, Pauline moved the family to Brownwood. The two graves of Campbell women may be those of a daughter and a niece, Trisha believes.
Trisha’s growing-up years in Austin included riding her bike around town back in the days when access to Camp Mabry was open and there was a tunnel to cross under the train tracks that now are in the center of MOPAC. She has two brothers, one who still lives in Austin and another in Kingsland. Her first job back in high school was working as a page in the library, where she says she gained an appreciation for “the whole range of knowledge.” Her college career at UT, where she majored in natural sciences with breaks to work various jobs, spanned twelve undergraduate years, plus two more semesters studying library science. For the next thirteen years she worked in the cataloging section of the Austin library.
In the 80’s Trisha had learned to ride horses, an experience which “opened up a whole new world,” in her words. So, ready for a change, she began taking pre-veterinary classes at Texas State University in 1988 and in 1992 was hired as a veterinary technician in the large animal ICU at Texas A&M University. For 18 months she worked the “graveyard shift,” 1 a.m. to 9 a.m., taking care of sick horses. From 1993-96 she also worked in large animal radiology, admitting that it’s pretty hard to see inside a horse. In 1996, homesick for the Hill Country, she moved back to Austin when her dad became ill and subsequently passed away. Her job experiences included more library work, this time at the Pleasant Hill branch, a pharmacy tech job, and a stint as a cashier at HEB, where she enjoyed working with the public. Then the Oak Hill branch library opened, and she had the opportunity to help set up the circulation desk, a time she remembers fondly as one of “team building”, when everyone was working together to get the library up and running. In 1998 she moved to Blanco but continued to commute to Austin until her retirement in February 2006.
Asked why she chose Blanco, Trisha admitted, “Anyone who grows up in Austin dreams about living in the Hill Country.” In her spare time she enjoys gardening with native plants and playing with her rescue dog and assorted cats who have shown up at her doorstep. Her association with the Blanco Library began shortly after she moved to town, seeing it as a way to be part of the community. For anyone who has ever considered volunteering at the library, she asserted,“It’s just the best way to meet people.”
Her first goal for the library is to see it open more hours, especially “in the gaps” of Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. She welcomes input from the community on which hours are most important for the library to be open. She also hopes to see more community outreach programs such as ESL classes, GED classes, and conversational Spanish. She is very excited about Olga Ibarra’s art classes and Maggie Goodman’s theater project, which she says has expanded to include any interested adults, especially for the production of their Christmas play, “A Rockin’ Christmas.” She hopes that there will be a greater response from the public. Children’s Storytime on Fridays at 10:30 a.m. is another program Trisha hopes will draw more youngsters to the library. She also welcomes book donations, which people may unearth during fall cleaning. She does ask that the donations be brought inside the building, so library patrons can get the first chance at them.
A research tool which Trisha hopes more people will utilize are the TexShare databases, available through the Blanco Library website. Anyone with a Blanco Library card can get the password at the library and then use it on a home computer to access scholarly articles and newspapers from all over the country. It also contains a genealogy database, including censuses, which is very useful to those researching family trees. Library members in good standing can also apply for a TexShare card, their passport to all other libraries in the TexShare library system, including the University of Texas. Use of this card gives free access to the Austin public libraries, which ordinarily charge a $60 non-resident user fee.
Trisha has been overwhelmed by the community support for Blanco’s library. “We are all so blessed by the hours people put in on a volunteer basis—people just love this library so much!” As to her new career here, she said, “I feel so lucky—I never dreamed or imagined that I would get an opportunity to do this.” She added with a smile that her mom, who often took her and her brothers to the library as children, is really pleased as well.