For more than two decades, Library Specialist Jennifer Prince started countless children on a lifelong path and adventure of reading. To commemorate this remarkable achievement, employees and regular patrons of the Fairview Library surprised her with a one-of-a-kind tapestry. “It means a lot to me because it reminds me of why I love being a children's librarian — building relationships,” exclaims Jennifer. “I think the tapestry is the best and biggest resume I could ever have. Dozens of people contributed thoughts and memories regarding story time, book recommendations, and special events I developed such as the annual Fancy Nancy Gala and the annual Jedi Academy.”
So how exactly do you create a surprise tapestry weaving in elements of such an impressive career? Fairview Branch Manager Jaime McDowell says it started with an ambitious plan. “We wanted to celebrate all of Jennifer's achievements in her two-plus decades with the County, and Librarian Jill Scobie had a vision of a spiral — something that starts in the middle and branches out and touches more and more things as it moves along.” And they left no stone unturned reaching out to past and present colleagues and library patrons Jennifer has known throughout the years.
Jill says the underlying vision of the tapestry is to honor Jennifer’s commitment to advancing reading over the course of her career. “Jennifer has touched many lives during her years as a children's librarian and author. The imagery of ever-expanding circles of beauty spreading from the center quickly led to finding a tapestry in pinks and purples on which we could create a visual reminder of her accomplishments and relationships within the community,” explains Jill.
As for the design of the tapestry, it has flowers in three sizes with the centers displaying everything from notes, personality traits, and the names of children Jennifer has worked with over the years. “Jennifer is represented by the pink and white bee near the center of the tapestry — the pollinator, accompanied by a poem reminding her that just being herself is a super power,” says Jill.
Librarian Brandon Widner says the tapestry is definitely representative of Jennifer: “It’s a huge pink banner covered in flowers, glitter, and kind words. Staff, patrons, and children all wrote things they love about Jennifer or their best memory with her. It really exemplifies her joyfulness and love of all things glittery. She can't get enough of the stuff!”
Jaime is also very proud of the end result, but quick to note it wouldn’t have been possible without Jennifer’s dedication to public service citing, “The tapestry is neat, but it's really the milestone that Jennifer has achieved that we feel is important and worth celebrating here.”
As for Jennifer’s secret to being a beloved and dedicated librarian, she says it comes down to the words “Only connect,” written by author E. M. Forster. “I've always loved that. In two words, that sums up my professional philosophy. Prestige, awards, and more money would be nice professional add-ons, but I'll pick building relationships any day over the transient things,” explains Jennifer. “It is my belief that building relationships has implications into eternity… the nice but fleeting add-ons do not.”
Buncombe County is excited to share Jennifer’s accomplishments and her coworkers' amazing ability to keep a secret while creating this truly unique tapestry. Thank you to all the Fairview Library Branch staff and all our librarians for the work you do in our communities. This tapestry is a reminder of how far-reaching public service can be.