Page Library featured in upcoming documentary

By Bob Hembree
Posted 7/3/24

Page Public Library is back in the national limelight. The American Library Association (ALA) and cinematographer Nikita Carpenter are shooting a documentary of ALA President Emily Drabinski’s …

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Page Library featured in upcoming documentary


Page Public Library is back in the national limelight. The American Library Association (ALA) and cinematographer Nikita Carpenter are shooting a documentary of ALA President Emily Drabinski’s national library tour.

On June 22, the video crew filmed Drabinski interviewing local officials including Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler and Page Mayor Bill Diak.

“Welcoming Emily Drabinski, President of the American Library Association, to our library was truly thrilling,” said Page Public Library Manager Debbie Winlock. “Being recognized as The Best Small Library in America 2023 until Sept. 1, 2024 by a national organization was an affirmation of the passion I have for my work. Our library exemplifies the evolving role of libraries beyond just books, serving as invaluable community hubs.”

Library guests also included Arizona Library Association President Lisa Lewis and Coconino County Librarian Demaris Hill. Local residents, library board members and city officials had a chance to chat about libraries with the experts.

Fowler, summarizing what she said in the interview, explained the Coconino county library system: “We have different types of libraries. From Coconino County, we partner with the City of Flagstaff, and that's how this library system is set up in Coconino County. We have affiliate libraries, like the Page Library, which is a partnership with the City of Page. Then there's others that are totally under the county funding, so that's how it's set up. And then we also have a library in our jail system detention center. We have our library with the law library, which is where people can do their research on legal issues or be able to file their own case and figure out how to do that, fill out papers - so that's a whole different kind of library. Then we have a bookmobile as well. So we have various types of libraries trying to reach all populations throughout the county.”

“Well, I'm glad to see that the American Library Association is here in Page to visit our library,” said Diak. “It has been rated the best small library in the country in 2023. And this is just another award that the City of Page Library has been able to successfully get over the last few years. So we're very, very proud of our library and all that's done by its staff and our manager, Debbie Winlock, who's been here for many years. And to be rated as the best small library in the country is quite an honor. And that's one of the reasons why we're doing this special with Emily.”

Under Winlock’s management, the current City Council and City Manager Darren Coldwell, the library made significant improvements in a short period of time. Diak recalled some of the problems the library had to overcome under the previous city manager.

“I think part of it is sometimes the downswing comes because of economics and things like that,” said Diak. “But I think for the last few years, economically, the City of Page has been doing well. Therefore, there's more funding, better staffing. We did have some staffing cuts a few years ago, and I think what we've done is we've come back in and replaced that staffing, and that has enabled us to expand our programs. Mainly the program that we're really proud of is the kids’ reading program as well as an adult reading program. Not all libraries have adult reading programs. And I think that some people think that maybe that might not be necessary because adults should already know how to do this and know about libraries. But you'd be surprised how many people don't. So we give help to try to give them exposure in the library and what we can help them with.”

“We're here doing a library tour all across America,” said Carpenter. “And we're here in the Page Library. This is our last stop of the film, and the film will be distributed later, which will be on the ALA website for everyone to find.”

Carpenter told the Chronicle it will take about six months to put the film together.

“Page Library caters to both educational and recreational needs, offering diverse programming that fosters community engagement,” said Winlock. “Our activities range from story times and after-school programs to teen programs, music sessions, lectures and more, uniting community members in enriching and enjoyable ways.

“Additionally, Page Library plays a vital role in our community by providing breakfast and lunch for children aged 18 and younger. This food program is made possible through a grant from St. Mary's Food Bank and Feeding America, with the library distributing 1,768 meals last month alone.”