Starting a new chapter: Cricket Pylman retires from Vail Public Library after nearly 15 years
This is not a goodbye, but a love letter to libraries and all they have to offer
For nearly 15 years, Cricket Pylman has been a mainstay at the Vail Public Library — leading story times, supporting the summer reading program and finding new ways for the library to meet the community’s needs. But now, Pylman is ushering in her next phase of life: retirement, one that will still surely include volunteering for events and shifts at the library.
Taking on Pylman’s role as the children’s librarian will be Erin Stege, who had previously been working part-time at the library.
“We know her wonderful energy, love for kids, and sense of adventure will allow her not only to carry on Cricket’s legacy, but bring her own special talents to this role,” read the Vail Public Library’s Facebook post announcing Pylman’s retirement and Stege’s new role.
Pylman’s first career was in preschool education, initially moving to Vail for a job at The Learning Tree in town. Some years later, she began subbing at library and after the preschool closed, the library offered her a job.
“I didn’t go there seeking the job so much as we magnetically attracted one another because it was just a good fit for me,” Pylman said. “I just love libraries; I used to take my children to story time when they were little and I’ve just loved the Vail Library, so I knew it was a place I would be happy to work.”
For her, the best part of her job was getting to know the families and children, not only those that were local, but those that visited the library and town, year after year.
“I’m a people person and I like my interactions with the children and their parents and I actually loved my time on the desk, just checking people out as well, it was ‘adult time’ for me since I’m very kids-centric and work with kids mostly,” Pylman said. “Just getting to know families well — both tourist and local families — was nice.”
Over the years, Pylman was responsible or helped bring a number of significant programs to the Vail Library. This included helping bring the Summer Reading program to Vail, bringing Touch-a-Truck to town, transitioning into virtual story times during the pandemic and even launching the StoryWalk in Bighorn Park.
“In short, Cricket makes everyone, regardless of age, smile. She is warm, inclusive and committed to the library’s children’s services,” said Jo Norris, senior librarian of technical services at Vail Public Library. “To me, Cricket’s legacy is a set of strong children’s services at Vail Public Library. Cricket nurtures little library users and their families. She has worked hard to connect with the schools in the valley and offer library time and library cards to students from Red Sandstone Elementary, Vail Mountain School and Children’s Garden of Learning.”
Specifically, the StoryWalk that was created and installed at Bighorn Park in East Vail in 2020 is what Pylman referred to as her “swan song.”
“That was just always a dream of mine, and since it’s Vail, we did it in a very finished and fine way,” Pylman said, adding that it’s not only a wonderful way to be outside, but that it helps bring reading to kids and families in a new and different way.
StoryWalk is a series of 21 frames around the park’s small pond, which take participants through a book page-by-page, every 20 steps or so. The library changes out the book every four months or so with different children’s titles, with the stories in both English and Spanish. Currently, and into July, the book on display is “The Gruffalo,” by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.
Its these programs — as well as all the others that the library has to offer — that Pylman wants to shine a light on as she bids adieu to her full-time work at the Vail Public Library, not her retirement.
“Let’s not mourn anything, let’s celebrate the library and that it’s thriving and a fun place to go find activities — go visit the library,” she said. “The more important message is that, I’m just someone who was lucky enough to work there and get to play with all these kids and their families, but it’s continuing.”
“The library always has something going on — and not just this library but all the libraries,” Pylman said.
While the library certainly has its children’s story times and traditional library services, it also has a number of additional programs meant to help engage community members of all ages not only with reading and learning, but with each other as well.
This includes things like crafts for kids (including in May, an opportunity to create terrariums), virtual book clubs for adults, opportunities for adults to try various mindfulness and healthy lifestyle activities, Girls who Code, a Teen Advisory Board and more.
“I was cleaning out my files and everything, and looking at some of the other after-school programs, and we have writing workshops, and we have book clubs — so much fell away with the pandemic and everything and I’m really excited for Erin, who gets to kick start everything again, because the masks kind of are coming off, we’re getting through this, at least I hope so,” Pylman said.
This summer, the library will see a return to a lot of the programming that pivoted or took a backseat during the pandemic. Its summer calendar of events includes everything from outdoor concerts (Evenings of Engagement) in its backyard, the summer reading program with events across the valley, the return of Drum Safari and even a Foam Party — which Pylman said she was coming back for, retired or not.
And as the library has evolved to meet the community’s needs with certain programs and resources in the past — including during the pandemic — it will continue to do so well into the future.
“I see Vail Library as moving into the future committed to providing equal access to diverse materials, services and events,” Norris said.” We continue to grow and adapt to the community of users needs, including services, programs, access to print and online collections.”
To take advantage of all that Vail Public Library has to offer, visit VailLibrary.com. Or visit EVLD.org, to learn about what the Eagle Valley Library District — which has branches in Avon, Eagle and Gypsum — has to offer.
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at email@example.com.