• Laurel Contributor

Changing Seasons at the Hudson

by Emily Crowell

Karen Hawk

Highlands is finally shrugging off its winter coat and opening into riotous bloom, and Hudson Library is warming up for the busy season.

But first, change. Karen Hawk, a mainstay at Hudson’s circulation desk for a decade, is turning over a new leaf in her own life this Spring with her retirement – her last day as a working woman is April 12. She’s looking forward to retirement, as she’s been working since she was 14, although she’ll miss being at the front desk and talking to everyone – and that goes both ways.

“It’s really been fascinating when you stop and listen, what you learn about people,” she says.

Karen is one of the most creative people I know, and her creativity paired with her community-mindedness has brightened every aspect of Hudson Library, from her continuous “Every Day is Earth Day” book display to the monthly Community Coffee, which sprang from a conversation with the then newly-elected Mayor, Patrick Taylor. She has also overseen the best library display case in Western North Carolina since she started working at the library in 2009. No doubt, if you’ve ever walked in the doors of the Hudson, you’ve stopped in front of the large case facing the circulation desk to admire its changing contents, from baskets to old tools to seasonal book displays.

When asked where she gets her ideas for displays, she can’t really say, although she does get a lot of them while she’s running or talking with people at the front desk. Some of her favorite displays in recent years have been when she’s featured community members in “favorite people and their things” exhibits – one gentleman even brought his toaster as his “Favorite Household Item.”

“It’s a way to really get to know people in the community,” Karen says, and it’s that sort of attitude that makes Hudson Library a gem of a community center in Highlands, not just a receptacle for books.

The Hudson will certainly feel different without Karen, but not to worry – it’s still her library, she’ll just be on the other side of the desk now. She’s going to remain active in the Highlands Community so chances are we’ll see her around, and if we’re really lucky, she may still give out book recommendations.

The usual programs are happening at Hudson this month, along with a lunchtime talk by Jim Costa, the Director of Highlands Biological Station, on April 24 at 12:30 P.M. The talk will be on “Charles Darwin’s ‘Fool’s Experiments’ – Lessons from an Inveterate Experimentiser.” He’ll have paperback and hardback copies of his latest book, “Darwin’s Backyard,” available for purchase at this free event.

For more information, call the Hudson at (828) 526-3031. The library is located at 554 Main Street in Highlands and is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 A.M. – 5:30 P.M., and Saturdays from 10:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.

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