Winters Public Library dedicates memorial to former director

Bill Hancock
Jeff Congdon (far left) holds a photo of his late wife, Valerie Congdon, who was the director of the Winters Public Library at her time of passing in May 2019. 

Also pictured are current library board members, Brenda Watkins, Cheryl Bryan, Sally Spill, Jane Allcorn and the current director of the library, Susan Minzenmayer.

Albert Einstein once said, “The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” Valerie Congdon lived those words in her passion as the director of the Winters Public Library. Congdon had only been director of the Winters Public Library a short time before she suddenly passed away on May 21st, 2019. Congdon made the most of her time as the library’s director and the community immediately noticed her impact. Because of Congdon’s passion, many people not only knew where the location of the library was, many people rediscovered it.

Since Congdon’s passing, memorial donations have been accepted over the last several months so that the library board could establish a worthy memorial and tribute to her. Congdon started several programs at the library but unfortunately she passed away before she saw many of them come to fruition. Susan Minzenmayer was appointed as the director of the library after Congdon’s passing. For all intents and purposes, she’s carried on the respected tradition of library directors in Winters. Minzenmayer said that the board came up with the idea for a memorial to honor Congdon, “We wanted to create something special and the board came up with the idea for the Little Free Library.” When the idea was proposed, Minzenmayer immediately started researching it, in the thorough manner and tradition of all respected librarians, and then she started promoting it.

The Little Free Library is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a little library and it’s free. It’s about 24” wide by 16” tall by 14” deep. The Little Free Library is a deep shade of blue and has a glass front with a latch. It even has its own registration number, 90770, and will be packed with information and adventure for readers of all ages. A plaque will be donated by Tommy Lancaster and mounted on The Little Library.

Members of the library board, Minzenmayer and Congdon’s widower, Jeff Congdon, were present at a small ceremony for the Little Free Libarary at the Winters Public Library. Jeff Congdon commented on the memorial, “I only found out about it a few weeks ago. I knew that they were putting together a memorial but I didn’t know what it was. I think that this is very appropriate. We used to use libraries set up at the state parks that we stayed in. Valerie would be very happy with this as a memorial.” Congdon brought some books to the event to put in the Little Free Library.

Minzenmayer said that the public will be able to take and leave books as they wish, although, leaving a book isn’t required, “The public can just take a book for free and leave another one if they have one to leave. They aren’t required to leave a book though.” The Little Free Library will be mounted on a pole and set up somewhere in town. The location is still being worked out with the city council.

The date and time of the Little Free Library’s unveiling will be published in the paper as soon as it’s finalized.