By DANA DELGADO
Despite her circuitous science career path that included a Master’s Degree in Biological Anthropology and a move to Texas from Illinois to get her Ph.D., Angela Palmer is very much at home as Liberty Hill’s new Public Library Director.
“I’ve had that deer in the headlights feeling, but it’s a new challenge and everything is going well,” Mrs. Palmer said about her new position. “The community has been wonderful — hugs and everything.”
She was assisting at the library in Bee Caves for the past eight years before accepting her first directorship position in Liberty Hill this fall. She said a second Master’s Degree, this time in Library Science, is in the works.
The new director said she would like to make everyone more aware of the Public Library and its resources and increase visitors and usage. She said she would like people to know that the library can be far more than most think.
“The library can be a meeting place, a hub,” she said. “I want to keep the energy going, get people excited and make them feel like they are part of it.”
With a keen interest in science since she was a child, Mrs. Palmer had hoped to become a college professor, not a library director. In fact, her 1999 move to Texas was to obtain her Ph.D. at the University of Texas.
She recalls driving into Texas was like entering a “different world.” The temperature hovered around 106 degrees and all those football stadiums she had passed along her route shocked her when she found out they were high schools and not universities.
“I knew football was big in Texas, but I never imagined it was that big,” she said.
That dream of a professorship, however, was replaced by her lifelong passion for books.
“I clearly remember lying on the floor next to my dad as we both read. We shared the activity and it was so cozy. It was an incredible thing. Dad loved westerns like Zane Grey while Mom read popular fictions. Although my dad died early, our family was always reading,” Mrs. Palmer said.
Palmer hails from the small rural town of Dongola, Illinois, where her school librarian, Irene Dillon, made a big impression on her as a young child.
“Mrs. Dillon was a great school librarian,” she recalls. “She introduced me to many authors and all the classics like Pride and Prejudice and Little Women. She taught me to read for fun and opened millions of worlds through reading.”
In contrast, her town’s public librarian who managed the stately but utilitarian Carnegie Library, was the stereotypical librarian. She wore horned-rimmed glasses and had her hair tied in a bun and patrolled the aisles like a warden.
When she left home for the University of Illinois in Urbana, she found the library to be a cavernous eye-opener and the whole experience “culture shock.”
She also discovered bookstores especially a great little used book store she entrenched herself in for hours. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings would become great reads for her in Urbana. She also discovered science fiction, fantasy, Shakespeare and more classics.
She said that coming to Liberty Hill was like being home — a small rural community.
“I get to do a little bit of everything in a small town,” she said. “In a small town library you get to know the people. I think it’s a natural fit.”
Besides books, animals are a big part of her life. She volunteers at several area dog rescues and has five of her own dogs at home.
“I love having them around,” she said. “They are so engaging and have such personalities.”
Vintage items are also of particular interest. Mrs. Palmer likes to decoupage and make vintage ornaments. Of particular interest are paper Putz House ornaments of the 1920’s and 1930’s, which her grandparents always had on their Christmas tree and which she hopes to create.
She has a collection of vintage clothes from the 1930’s-1950’s as well as vintage costume jewelry, purses and of course, a vast collection of books in her eclectic home.
She is married to Kim Montroy whom she met 23 years ago in Illinois.
“We met over sports,” she said. “He was a Cubs fan while I followed the St. Louis Cardinals, but we both loved books.”
Mrs. Palmer is also an avid vegetable gardener and has a great sense of humor and fills every spare moment by reading. Advancing the Liberty Hill Public Library, however, has become her major focus.
“It’s been a busy month and I’ve started some new programs,” she said.
On Thursday, Dec. 12, from 7-7:45 p.m. the entire family is invited to the Library at 355 Loop 332 for special holiday “Sleepy-time Story-time.” Pajamas is the attire for this evening of holiday stories, songs, craft-making and a snack.
On Saturday, Dec 14, from 12:30-2:30 p.m. children ages three and up and their families are invited to “Holly Jolly Craft Day.”
Finally, the Library extends an invitation to students and their families for “Winter Break Fun.” On Friday, Dec. 27, from 2-4 p.m. there will be classic board games and book tasting as part of “Un-tuned and Unplugged Day.”
Then on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, “Snow and Slime Day” welcomes students for some science fun.
Mrs. Palmer replaced longtime Librarian Sandy Schultz, who resigned this fall, married and moved to San Antonio where she is working as a reference librarian at Palo Alto College.