Bonnie Hardwell is now the president of the Columbia County Library board and is looking forward to keeping the library on track for patrons.
“I’m honored they chose me to serve as president and I just look forward to a great year for the library and for us to find additional funding whether through grants or foundations,” she said.
Hardwell has worked for 15 years for the Magnolia School District and handles human resources, accounts payable and payroll.
Being on the five-person library board is something she thinks is important because the library promotes literacy and that is fundamental regardless of the reasons someone is reading, she said. Someone must be able to read to solve a math equation, she said.
“I can’t imagine not being able to read and the earlier you start the better it is,” Hardwell said. “You can go so many places in a book. You can just travel the world by just reading a book.”
Hardwell took her place on the library board in 2016 and replaced outgoing President John White, according to Rhonda Rolen, library director.
Rolen and Hardwell knew each other from working at the Springhill, Louisiana Walmart when it first opened in the late 80s.
Rolen said she used to work with Hardwell’s uncle and knew Hardwell came from a good family.
“When I came to this job she was on the Quorum Court and after the meeting she came and congratulated me, and it meant a lot to me that she recognized me,” Rolen said.
Hardwell was raised in Emerson and went to school at Walker Schools. Her bachelor’s degree is from Southern Arkansas University and is in general business and accounting.
White said he thinks Hardwell will do an excellent job as president.
“She is a person concerned with things in the community and she is going to be a good chair or our group,” he said. “She is a long-term employee with the Magnolia School District and has good training there as well. I give Bonnie all the credit. She is going to be excellent and we all enjoy working with her.”
Jim Garrett, a former longtime principal for Magnolia High School who served as president of the library board for 10 years, said he is excited about serving with Hardwell. He said being president of the library is tied to having a good staff at the library and he said this is the case.
“You have to be really involved with the library and make sure to promote it to the public at any chance,” he said. “The thing the president has to do is go with the librarian and staff to make a budget. One of the things I was always proud of is that we were always within the budget.”
Hardwell said Rolen has worked diligently to obtain the newest technology for the library with grants and part of her job as president is to let people know what the library has to offer.
“People have to do applications online, print things online and fax something,” she said. “They can even make copies from here. The library has good long days on Mondays and Thursdays and is even open on Saturday.”
The library’s budget was a struggle last year as the library faced many difficulties, Hardwell said. The library’s older air conditioning units needed replaced, there were problems with the water fountain and a great deal of flooding had to be dealt with in February which ruined carpet and required repairs.
The budgeting process for this year begins in September and repairs from the last year such as the air conditioning repairs will still make an impact, she said. Another aspect of the new budgeting year will be the increase of the minimum wage.
“That is a concern. We want good people and we want to pay good salaries,” she said.
In many ways, becoming the president of the library board is a full circle experience for Hardwell because she worked for the library when she was a college student.
“I graduated in 1983 so it was probably in 1981-1982 and I worked shelving books, checking out books in circulation,” she said.
She said she never knew going down that path would lead to serving on the library board as president.
“It’s amazing how things work out,” she said.
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