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story.lead_photo.caption Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista Argie Willis browses in the Bella Vista Library. After retiring as assistant director, she has more time to read for pleasure.

When Argie Willis moved to Bella Vista in 2009, she planned to retire. But it was almost 10 years later when she finally got around to retirement. Willis was the adult services librarian, as well as the assistant director at the Bella Vista Library only because she loved the job.

Like many new Bella Vista residents, Willis went to the library as a volunteer. She planned to work a few hours a week. At that time, there was only one full-time employee, library director Joni Stine.

It didn't take long for Stine to discover that her new volunteer had been a school librarian for 20 years and then a consultant for the state library system in Oklahoma.

In 2010, the Bella Vista Library was its own nonprofit agency run by a board of trustees with a very limited budget. When Willis accepted a part-time position, the Friends of the Library raised the funds to pay her salary. Volunteers and a handful of part-time professionals, as well as Stine, kept the library running.

The city was only a few years old at that time, but the board of trustees started the process to make the library part of city government. The city took over in January 2014 and, coincidentally, Stine left within a few months. That left Willis as the interim library director.

Instead of being retired, she found herself working over 40 hours a week to keep the library running smoothly. She was relieved when the city hired Roxie Wright as library director.

"My two favorite things are the traveling library and the volunteers," Willis said. She was happy to turn over the position and return to her favorites.

The traveling library started in 2016 with a visit to Concordia. It still visits Concordia, as well as Brookfield and the apartments at Highlands Crossing, but it also makes home visits. Usually, the person requesting a home visit has a specific book he or she is requesting, but sometimes librarians are asked to choose a book. At the retirement communities, the librarians choose a cartload of books for the residents to browse.

For the past few years, Willis has been purchasing the large-print books for the traveling library. Keeping up with new books kept her busy.

She was also the volunteer coordinator and she knows she'll miss seeing the library volunteers regularly. She will probably return as a volunteer herself in a few months, she said.

"It's fun to be involved," she said.

Since the library joined the city, there have been a few changes. The staff was expanded to include a full-time children's librarian, and that meant that children's programming could increase.

The board of trustees became the Library Foundation Board and is raising money to add on to the building. The Friends of the Library continues its fundraising as well, with much of its income also going toward the addition.

The collection is always changing, Willis said. It includes movies on DVD, audio books and electronic books, as well as the stacks of traditional books.

Willis, who taught high school English before earning her master's degree in library science, likes to read best sellers and some nonfiction. She still enjoys the classics as well.

Now that she has time, she may join one of the many books clubs that meet at the library.

General News on 08/08/2018

Print Headline: Retiring but not leaving

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