'So much in return' Conway woman's mission is to find a need, then fill itREAD ONLINE
New director of Fairfield Bay Library is ‘avid’ reader-RVOOriginally Published March 24, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated March 22, 2013 at 10:28 a.m.
Alice Chambers has had many jobs in her lifetime, but perhaps none so apt as her new one. She became director of the Fairfield Bay Library on March 4.
“I am an avid, avid, avid reader,” she said with a smile. “I had thought about retiring until I heard about this job. It seems it was meant to be.
“I’ve been here just about two weeks, and I absolutely love it. It’s going to be a wonderful job. Everything has just transitioned so smoothly. After a few years of staying at home, I am ready to do something like this.”
Chambers moved to Arkansas to be near her parents, Howard and Lorene Hamilton of Choctaw. Chambers is one of six children, and all but one live within 25 miles of their parents. Her siblings are Kay Lewis and Ray Hamilton, who are twins and live in Dennard; John Hamilton, who lives in Austin near Center Ridge; Lynnette Jones, who lives in Springfield; and Susan DeNicolo, who lives in Saratoga, Calif.
“My parents came to Arkansas eons ago,” she said. “I lived in Conway for a while, while my son was in high school. He graduated from Conway High School in 1987.”
Her son, Paul Strack, and his wife, Jenny, live in Mountain Home with their children, Ava, 10, and Connor, 9.
Chambers’ three stepdaughters are Melissa Malan, who lives in Sutter, Calif., with her husband, John, and their children, Isabella, 12, Keegan, 10, and Mia, 8; Marie Giles, who lives in Meridian, Calif., with her daughter, Jennifer, 17 (her two sons, Daniel, 20, and Samuel, 21, live in the Seattle, Wash., area); and Janae Gonzales, who lives with her husband, Ray, in Sutter, with their children, Anthony, 17, Devante, 13, Jimmy, 18, Brandon, 17, and Tyler, 15.
Chambers lived in Mountain View for a few years and moved to Fairfield Bay in 1995.
She met her husband, Larry Chambers, after she moved to Fairfield Bay. Originally from Sutter, Calif., he retired about a year and a half ago after 40 years as a cabinetmaker. “We met through some mutual friends,” she said.
Chambers is a graduate of Atwater High School in Atwater, Calif., and of the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton. She also attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
“I studied horticulture,” she said with a laugh. “I worked in that field for a short while, working at a nursery in Little Rock, and then I discovered I was allergic to everything outside.”
While in Conway, she worked with small children.
“I worked at Head Start and day care centers while my son was growing up,” she said. “He was involved in several school activities, so that kind of work allowed me to take him to and from his activities.”
While in Mountain View, Chambers worked for Stone County Iron Works, first in the marketing department, attending trade shows across the country. Then she moved into retail, managing that aspect of the original store in Mountain View, plus two locations in Little Rock.
Chambers is also a writer, working for a while for the White River Current in Calico Rock.
“I covered whatever needed to be done,” she said. “I’d always written for myself — short stories and poetry — especially when I was in high school.
“I worked for the Van Buren County Democrat, mostly doing layout and graphic design. I also did a few stories.
“Then I got the bug to do something that would be mine, something that would allow me the freedom to express myself. I published Life in the Ozarks for about six years. Since 2009, I have been freelancing, doing articles for community clubs and for Ozarks Farm and Neighbor, a newspaper printed in Lebanon, Mo. I do a “Neighbors” article that features farmers with more than 2,000 acres.”
When asked if she has a favorite quote, she said “yes,” then sharing it: “If you are not generic and ordinary and homogenized, you stand out — no matter how similar your surroundings,” she said.
“I saw this on a car ad one time and thought it was my quote,” she said with a smile. “I am left-handed, and when I was growing up, that was rare so I immediately stood out. I have always walked to the beat of my own drum, and not so much with what everyone else was doing. I think that’s where my creativity comes from.”
Chambers said the Fairfield Bay Library is an independent library and operates mainly on donations with a large staff of volunteers.
“The volunteers are amazing,” she said. “They have all been trained as volunteers. They are a great group of people.”
The library is governed by a seven-member board of directors.
“We are delighted to have Alice as a member of our staff,” said Doris Wilkinson, board president. “We feel she is very knowledgeable of the area and of books and literature.
“We believe she will continue the good services we offer and will have some new ideas of her own. She is an asset to us, and we are delighted to have her on board.”
“Everything is running smoothly,” Chambers said of her new job. “I don’t perceive any major changes.”
She said the spring and summer are normally the busiest times of the year at the library.
“That’s when school is out for spring break and for the summer,” she said. “That’s when we have a lot of visitors, especially those who have time shares through the Wyndham Resort. These vacationers are able to check out books, audiobooks, movies and CDs. It works out nicely. Plus, the Wyndham Resort supports us with monetary donations.”
One of her missions is “to get the word out to the smaller communities around us that they are welcome to use our library,” she said, noting that there is a $15-per-year membership fee.
“I think the library is really the hub of the community,” she said. “Groups can meet here. We have four computers and two printers for the public to use. And we work with Fairfield Bay Emergency Medical Services by providing a ‘File of Life’ medical chart that our patrons can pick up here, fill out and post on their refrigerators. These charts can be invaluable to the EMS technicians. They tell me they really have made a difference.”
She said the local service also makes monetary
donations to the library.
Two upcoming fundraisers are planned in April. The Fairfield Bay Library Friends will sponsor the annual “Tee It Up for Literacy!” golf tournament April 13 at the Indian Hills Country Club in Fairfield Bay and the annual spring book sale April 24-27 at the library.
“We sell books here all the time, but the sale in April is our biggest effort,” she said.
Alice and Larry Chambers live in Shirley and are members of Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church in Fairfield Bay. She is president of the Van Buren County Fair Association, secretary of the Greers Ferry Lake and Little Red River Association and a board member for the North Central Arkansas Foundation for Arts and Education.
“I try to limit myself to three things,” she said. “And now I have a full-time job.”
The Fairfield Bay Library is at 369 Dave Creek Parkway in Fairfield Bay. Hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; and 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call (501) 884-4930 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.