The Mount Shasta Union School District board members voted to change the library’s name to honor Caldwell at their June board meeting.

The library at Mount Shasta Elementary School was packed on Friday with those who came to honor the school’s late librarian, Laurie Caldwell, and celebrate the renaming of the library in her memory. The Laurie Caldwell Library has already seen a number of improvements thanks to its namesake’s dedicated service.

Mount Shasta Elementary School superintendent/principal Barry Barnhart told the crowd on Friday that Caldwell was one of the library’s most important and dedicated volunteers.

“I was so appreciative of her dedication and love for the kids,” he said. Barnhart announced that former Village Books owner Kim Padilla will take over as MSE’s new librarian.

Caldwell’s husband, Eldon, and son Evan started a memorial fund in her name. The fund has already paid for new casual seating in the library.

“We used to have a hodgepodge of older table and desks,” said Sisson School Librarian Karen Poore. Guests at Friday’s celebration were enjoying the new seating, which is both soft and colorful.

Poore shared some memories of Caldwell, whom she worked alongside.

“Laurie was such a role model for all of us,” she said. She detailed how she and Caldwell weeded out a lot of old books in the library and brought in fresh, new titles.

“Laurie wanted every child to have a book that was perfect for them that they’d love,” Poore said.

The Mount Shasta Union School District board members voted to change the library’s name to honor Caldwell at their June board meeting.

Caldwell served her community outside of her work at the library as well. She was on the Mount Shasta Education Foundation Board for many years, Poore said. Mount Shasta school libraries benefitted every year from the foundation’s annual gala fundraiser.

She taught children’s church on Sunday mornings, mentored young people, volunteered at the Coffee Connection and loved to hike and swim in mountain lakes.

During Friday’s event, Poore read aloud thoughts from some of the students and staff whose lives were touched by Caldwell.

One student said that Caldwell made them feel at home in the library, Poore said.

“She always made time for every student and was loved by all,” Poore read in another statement from a staff member.

Yet another person remembered that Caldwell “always had a smile on her face, a kind word for every student and adult, and a book recommendation.”

“She thought this was her dream job, so it’s just fitting that we name (the library) after her,” Poore said. A sign will soon go up outside the library with its new name.

Another special addition to the space is a painting by local artist Gail Domanski. The piece depicts Caldwell happily reading to a group of children, surrounded by books, as she did every day.

“I spent a lot of time trying my best to capture the expression of love on her face,” Domanski said as tears flooded her eyes. Caldwell had long encouraged Domanski in her artwork.

Caldwell started at MSE as a teacher’s aide in 2006 and was the school’s librarian for nine years, from 2010-2018.

During that time, she started a Noontime Reading Program and asked community volunteers to listen to children read aloud. Several volunteers brought in therapy dogs to listen to the kids.

She also introduced the “Author of the Week” program to highlight different authors and introduce children to books they might not otherwise have picked up.

In addition, Caldwell applied for a James Patterson Grant and was awarded $3,000 for the Mount Shasta Union School District libraries. She wrote a heartfelt application about being an “accidental librarian” and her love of introducing reading to each and every child.

Caldwell passed away in February after a battle with ovarian cancer. Her memory and love for books and people will live on both at the Mount Shasta Elementary School Library and in the hearts of all those whose lives she brightened.