By Buffy CalvertStep into the Andes Public Library any Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. There at the desk you will see a petite woman with a wreath of curly hair and a big smile. Our new Director, Valerie Brown, is ready to jump up and find that special book or DVD or set you up at the computer or make you comfortable in the Community Room with your laptop.

Gloria Carlson, after five years as Director, opted to scale back her hours to Fridays only. Laurie McIntosh will hold Story Hour at 11 am on Wednesdays, overlap with Valerie, and work Thursday evenings.

Our new Director, selected from a group of excellent applicants, grew up in a little village on Long Island called Lynbrook. (Valerie guesses that the name was a reversal of the big place at the other end of the railroad, Brooklyn.) She and her sisters and brother could play on the streets and run down to the marina to hop on a boat to go fishing.

After graduating from high school, Valerie went west to college at Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio. She majored in Anthropology, then took a year traveling before deciding she wanted to teach. She pursued her masters at Bank Street College specializing in Early Childhood Education and taught at the Bank Street School in Greenwich Village for a while. Then, stimulated by the idea of community-based education, she joined the faculty of the Brooklyn New School where teachers and parents were working together to create innovative policy and curriculum. She initially taught first grade, later specializing in reading for children for whom reading was a struggle.

In 1976, she met Jerry Grabel. In 1990 they rented a place on Perch Lake in Andes and spent happy vacation days hiking, going to Andes events like the Strawberry Festival, and swimming in the pool. They began to look for a place to buy in the area and found a mountain retreat at Redkill near Roxbury. In 1997 they moved up fulltime, first living in their cabin at Redkill, later buying a house on a real paved road outside Fleischmanns.

Valerie taught Freshman Composition at Delhi College, and gave lessons in English as a Second Language. Then John Bernhardt recruited her to teach first grade at Margaretville Central School. She retired as a reading specialist after eight years at MCS in June.

Jerry and Valerie have been active in the community since moving here. He is on the Board at Skene Library in Fleischmanns. She has coordinated the Kids in the Kaatskills program for several years.

The part-time position as Library Director in Andes fits Valerie Brown perfectly: her passion for reading and helping others to enjoy books, her pleasure in meeting people, and her delight in a friendly community space in a beautiful setting. Andes is fortunate to be that setting.

There will be a party at the library to introduce Valerie Brown to the community on Saturday, March 9th from 3 – 5 pm. Be there! ~

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