Maybell librarian retires
August 19, 1999
Maybell — Starting Sept 1, a familiar face at the Maybell Public Library will be missed. After 24 years at the library, 83-year-old Katie Buffham is calling it a career.
Buffham will remember the people the most. “I have enjoyed being here and helping the people. I am a servant to the people,” she said.
Born in 1916 in Sterling, Colo., Buffham moved to Three Springs in 1921. “We moved to Three Springs with a wagon, saddle horse, and a Model T Ford. My mom drove the Model T and my dad took care of the rest,” Buffham said.
It was in 1944 when Buffham and her husband moved to Maybell so their children could attend school. She helped out on the family farm near Maybell and upon hearing word in 1975 that the library was closing,
“I said, ‘no you’re not’, and I took it over and within a month I had 72 people visit the library,” Buffham said. Not only did Buffham take the reigns on the library but she also continued to work on the farm. “I would drive the tractor, hop off, and run to the library. Then it was back on the tractor,” she said.
Buffham has worked hard to get the library where it is today and until a year or so ago, she worked at the Maybell library by herself.
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“Buffham has been a part of the Maybell community for a long time,” Library Board Member Gail Petch said, “Through all the changes, she has kept (the library) running.”
The library began in the inside of a bank. When the bank closed, it was moved to a trailer. This is when Buffham came into play. Buffham remembers some of the hardships in that first trailer.
“It would get down to 40 below in the winter and to use the toilet I had to walk in snow up to here (pointing above her waist),” Buffham said.
The current library is a modular school house from Craig, one with more size and modern conveniences.
Buffham worked for years without earning a penny until the Women’s Club bought her a dishwasher. “I want to thank everyone in the community, especially the Women’s Club,” she said. Once the trailer from Craig was brought to Maybell, she began to earn a salary.
As Buffham retires, she worries for the people of Maybell. “I am disappointed because I know there will be a great change for the people of Maybell,” Buffham said. “I spoiled ’em rotten and the kids, too. I even had supper for them on days.”
One reason for the retirement of Buffham leans towards new technology. With the Internet and the power of computers to electronically file books, the Moffat County Library Board may be working towards technological advances including interaction. According to Petch, the board is in the process of connecting the Dinosaur, Maybell, and Craig libraries into one interacting organization. With all this, Buffham prefers to do it her way, the way she originally learned. But in this day and age, computer systems are taking over once manual activities.
“Places are moving towards new technologies,” Buffham said. “But some aren’t considering these are country people. I have been upset by this but it has to be. I don’t have the computer education.” The computer education she may not have but she does know her way around the library.
Buffham’s main concern after she leaves the library is whether they will close the library, which she says they have been talking about. “I am afraid if they close they will have an awful mad Maybell. If they do it, it’s not right,” Buffham said. “I hope they keep it open.”
And keep it open they will. According to Petch, the library will “absolutely not” close.
Another accomplishment of Buffham’s includes her donation of books to the senior citizens in Craig. Approximately every four weeks Buffham would take boxes of books to the home in Craig. “I did my part and (the residents) just love them,” Buffham said.
What Buffham will do next is unknown. “That’s the trouble. I am going to have to find something to keep my head going,” she said. She wants to help around the library but “I don’t want to butt in” on the business of the head of the library.
According to Petch, an ongoing project in the Maybell library has been the building of a historic section by the Women’s Club. The section will be home to many one-of-a kind books lined in a glass case.
The Maybell Public Library offers activities for children. On Wednesdays, the library offers book readings, kitchen crafts and an exploration into the wide world of books.