Payson Is Paradise To New President

PAYSON PEOPLE

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You probably won't find too many people in the Rim country who plan to visit Chinle, Tuba City and Eagar in a single month.

In fact, Karen Wartick, newly elected president of Library Friends, might be the only one.

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Karen Wartick

Wartick, who has a degree in early childhood education, presents workshops for child-care providers in Arizona's northern counties.

"I'm connected with a nonprofit agency out of the Valley that has a contract with DES to train child-care providers in home day-care centers," Wartick said. "I have workshops in Chinle, Tuba City and Eagar on my agenda for October."

Wartick, who is self-employed and works out of her Payson home, is also an education consultant and writes curriculum materials.

"This summer, for example, I wrote a series of lessons for a large city school district to align their after school program to instructional materials during the day," she said

Wartick loves working out of her home, but she's also excited about her new gig as Library Friends president. She was elected despite the fact that she's only been part of the organization for one year.

"I have the flexibility being self-employed that I can schedule my day as I want," she said. "I never had time to get involved my whole life, so it's kind of a kick for me to have the time now."

Wartick is a solid choice to head the organization that furnished the new library and buys many of its books. She's an avid reader and a great fan of libraries.

"I read a lot," she said. "I like reading everything -- serious fiction, trashy fiction, biographies, non-fiction."

Despite the Internet and other technology advancements, Wartick believes libraries are as vital as they ever were.

"I think there's a segment of society that uses libraries more than people think, and there's a misperception that with Internet technology and all that stuff people aren't reading as much," she said. "There's a large segment that reads and probably will always read."

While the Internet is a valuable resource, Wartick thinks it might be overrated. "You do research on the Internet and you can only get so much information there and you need to dig deeper. Where are you going to go? To the library."

She elaborated, "The thing that scares me is that there's so much misinformation on the Internet. Anybody can put information out there. How do students know that the information they are getting on the Internet is accurate?"

Besides the inaccuracy of much of what the Internet contains, Wartick believes there is also an overload factor.

"When you put in a topic on a search engine, depending on how sophisticated you are in defining your topic, you could come up with hundreds of thousands of hits," she said. "So you look at -- what -- maybe the first 20 if you have that much energy, time and patience, and that may not be the information you're looking for at all."

That's when your local library can come in handy.

"You go to the library and ask the reference librarian to guide you some place and you can come up with the information," she said.

A major project Library Friends just completed was the purchase and installation of a sophisticated $12,000 security system for the library. The new system provides both external and internal surveillance.

Wartick is also in the process of determining the directions that Library Friends members want to go.

"Right now what I'm doing is polling the membership, the people who have been very active for awhile," she said. "Since I haven't been involved with the organization all that long, I'm getting a sense of direction."

Wartick has already heard talk of expanding the library, and she wants Library Friends to play an integral role when the time comes. She knows that the love affair the community has with its new library means the support will be there.

"The community is good to us and we appreciate that," she said.

Wartick has always been a small town girl at heart. She was raised in an Illinois town with a population of just 1,100. Eventually she made her way to Arizona, where she taught in Chandler for 17 years.

"I taught kindergarten, first grade, second grade, skipped third, and taught fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth," she said.

Her family had a cabin in Thompson Draw, so she visited the Rim country frequently. Moving here permanently allowed her to return to her small town roots.

"So many things are attractive about small-town life," she said. "There's the clean air, the lack of traffic, just knowing people."

Of course no place is perfect.

"I had a mentor once who told me you can do everything in a small town you can do in a city; you just need to be discrete," she said. "I thought that was a very good piece of advice, because you sometimes feel a little bit like you're under a microscope."

When she's not reading, you'll most likely find Wartick on the business end of a quilt.

"Quilt making is my other passion," she said. "I belong to a state level group and I teach a class at Quilters Outpost."

Why, when you can buy a quilt in a store, would someone engage in such a time-consuming process?

"You can buy a print at Safeway or you can go to a gallery and buy an original piece of art," she explained. "What's the difference?

"There's the personal connection. Quilt making is like creating a work of art."

It's a goal Wartick strives for in all aspects of her life.

Profile

Name: Karen Wartick

Occupation: Education consultant, writer and editor of curriculum materials, trainer of teachers and child-care providers.

Employer: Self-employed.

Age: I stopped sharing that several years ago.

Birthplace: Quincy, Ill.

Family: Single, no children.

Personal Motto: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Inspiration: My Dad, a gentle soul with a great sense of humor and a strong work ethic.

Greatest feat: I hiked the Grand Canyon -- once!

Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Making quilts, reading and gardening.

Three words that describe me best: Outgoing, thoughtful, risk-taker.

Person in history I'd most like to meet: Christa McAuliffe.

Luxury defined: Time to do all the things I love to do.

Dream vacation spot: Hawaii.

Why Payson? Blue skies, starry nights and four fabulous seasons.

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