Tucked behind the Gingerbread House and across the street from the Senior Thrift Store drop-off in Pine, is a tiny building full of books and activity.

The Isabelle Hunt Memorial Public Library, at 6124 W. Randall Place in Pine, has been dedicated to the bibliophile for more than 40 years.

For the past 17 years, Ann Pendleton has been the library assistant. On Aug. 3, Pendleton became the library manager after her predecessor retired. Since, Pendleton has been busy making improvements. Now it’s time to let everyone know.

“I want the community to know we are a place to come to hang out and it’s fun,” she said. “Helping patrons is our biggest thing. Patrons say, ‘We don’t want to bother you with that.’ Anyone who works here likes to help people, it’s almost an obsession. We have to find the answer. We really enjoy it.”

“If you have a question, she finds out and gets right back to you,” said Suzanne Fumusa, library board president.

Since online archives have replaced card catalogs, the tiny Pine library is embracing the change. There is free Wi-Fi and four computers for email or research. Two more computers are being added to the junior section for homework and gaming.

As e-readers and Kindles cut into library’s patronage, the Pine library has an online lending program and staff can help you access it with your device, Pendleton said.

To bring in more kids, youth coordinator Peggy Egan has teamed up with the Pine-Strawberry Elementary School for weekly programs that introduce children to the library.

“We’d like to hear from our home-school community. What are their needs?” Pendleton said.

There are movie events, Lego building days, storytime and even a toddler time.

For adult programming, library assistant Janine Kramer and Pendleton have created a weekly knitting time and “crafternoon.” Other ideas include starting a book club and meet-and-greets with authors.

There is an activity planned just about every day at the Pine library.

“You can’t do this without good staff,” Pendleton said.

“We have great volunteers,” Pendleton added, with 16 covering 10 shifts each week.

“We are always looking for more,” she said.

Gila County largely funds the library’s budget, which includes a $130,000 income. For fiscal year 2020, operating expenses totaled $137,855, leaving a $7,000 shortfall.

Helping her with that challenge is the library board.

“The board has been so great, they are terrific. They are there when I need them,” Pendleton said.

“She has done a wonderful job,” said Fumusa.

The library houses 10,000 books and 1,800 DVDs.

Pendleton said they periodically “weed” books out. That process requires scanning each book and reviewing its lending history. If the book is not being read, then it’s pulled like a weed to make room for other books.

Along with taking part in the Wine Around the Library or making a cash donation, community members can join the Be the Angel program. Buy a book through the library at a 40% to 60% discount. Read it first, and then it joins the shelves of the Pine library for others to enjoy.

So stop into the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Public Library where the coffee is always on and hot tea is available. Enjoy the newspaper, browse on a computer, or chat fireside with a friend.

Upcoming library events

“Crafternoon” is at 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17 for teens and adults. Guests will make stamped farmhouse books at no cost. The library will provide jute to tie them together and recommend bringing ribbon.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, kids 5 years and up are invited to the library for the Winter Lego Challenge.

Smoke on the Rim possible

Fire crews in the Coconino Forest are hoping to get back on track this week with the pile burning that was scheduled for December. Crews will begin with burning the piles in three designated areas throughout the week, weather permitting. Smoke is not expected to impact the Pine-Strawberry area, it will impact the Lake Mary Road and areas to the north.

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