Parent Speaks Out About Southeastern Wyoming Library Killing Its Program, the Charcoal & Quill Guild

Child Katie said it provided an outlet not otherwise seen in the community

A parent of a child who attended the Goshen County (Wyo.) Library’s Charcoal & Quill Guild has spoken in disfavor of the library discontinuing the guild.

Diane Heeney wrote to me about the issue after I wrote an article about the library making multiple changes, including terminating the guild.

The library’s interim director, Mike Durfee, did not return a request for comment for this story.

“It’s not like me to be very militant about stuff, (but my) concern is the message it sends to the kids,” Heeney said.

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Diane Heeney

That message is that the guild is not important, Heeney said.

“As I said in the letter to the editor I sent to you, it seemed their letter to the editor was conflicting with some of the information they sent out,” Heeney said, referencing a letter the library board wrote after my first article related to the subject.

“When they inquired about it is that was the reason it was offered,” Heeney said. “They didn’t have the staff … what they said in the letter to the editor seemed to not wash with that.”

It concerned Heeney that the Guild wasn’t even mentioned in the letter, Heeney said.

“The kids really loved the group. It provided them with some opportunities artistically,” Heeney said. “If they are interested in meeting the needs of the community … it would seem to be the perfect platform. The obligation to continue it running is very, very minimal. One hour a week, no budget. It was my understanding that Helen (the instructor) was buying her own supplies.”

Heeney complimented Helen on having a “great rapport” with the students.

“She gets them,” Heeney said. “I went through high school as an artistic kid and you have your own little group … (There’s) not a lot to do .. if you are not (in) 4-H or sports.”

Henney’s daughter Katie said the guild was “the one place” where she felt like she belonged.

“When I came to the town as a new kid, I didn’t feel like I had any friends, but then I found friends in the Charcoal and Quill Guild,” said Katie, 13. “They are friends who can support me in my artwork and in my life. The librarian who runs it is very kind and understanding. I love showing my art proudly to my friends.”

The guild is not just a place where kids show art, Katie said.

“New kids come every week. They find friends in guild. … Pretty much all guild costs is 60 minutes of time.”

“If guild stops … where are all the artistic kids going to go?” Katie asked.

“There are hardly any groups for teenagers,” Katie said. “If the library really wants to do something for the community, they would keep this group.”

The library says it is trying to encourage creativity but is “taking away a source of creativity that the teenagers are a part of in the library,” Katie said.

“The club is also actually promoting the library,” Katie said. “Many of my friends check out books and movies afterwards.”

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Rhett Wilkinson has won 12 journalism awards over 4 years of applying for them. Work in USA TODAY, ESPN, Pew, MSN. Also been a successful pro se litigant.

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