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Library’s ‘Appreciation Wall’ helped draw Handrow to director’s position

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Posted: Friday, December 25, 2009 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:06 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Jackie Stone

The Cove Herald

Margaret Handrow grew up in libraries, but considers herself an oddball of the librarian world.

The new director of the Copperas Cove Public Library has a degree in geography instead of in English or library sciences; she prefers reading dry military history and soil surveys to best sellers; and the large, cream-colored teddy bear in her office is a management tool.

"The only real difference between a child and an adult is that the child has just gotten big," she said, explaining her "management by teddy bear" theory.

Handrow came to Copperas Cove in May from McAllen. She said one of the things that drew her from the border to the Hill Country was the "appreciation wall" at the library - a display of wooden bricks with names of those who have donated more than $500 to the library.

"It's impressive to see that kind of support from the community," she said.

Handrow worked at the McAllen Memorial Library for 19 years, but she got her first job in libraries when she was 11 years old.

While taking a library course at her Wisconsin elementary school, she noticed long lines of people waiting to get help from librarians.

"And I thought, 'Well this just isn't right," she said.

She volunteered as a "shelver" at the local library until getting her first paying library job as a 16-year-old high school student.

Reading is not Handrow's passion, but there is one thing she has loved about every library she has worked in.

"It gives me the chance to indulge in serendipity," she said.

Handrow handles countless books in her job, and as they pass through her hands she likes to lets her eyes skim over them until something grabs her attention.

"By just browsing, you usually find something that you wouldn't find when you're looking for something," she said.

Handrow leads a staff of nine full-time and two part-time employees. She is responsible for networking with the community, planning for the future, finding grants and coming up with new programs.

And she has big plans.

Since Handrow started work at the library, new programs have sprung up such as Saturday morning yoga classes and storytime with Copperas Cove High School Bulldawg players Saturday mornings during football season.

Handrow would like to see the library become even more of a community center with a "sense of place," while also following the trend of bringing books and information to people on the go and in their homes.

History and art programs, library training and e-books are on her mind.

"Libraries are not traditional anymore; libraries are evolving," she said.

"A library's function is to provide information, and how we provide that information is we have to stay current."

Contact Jackie Stone at jstone@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7474.

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