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Library honors Karen Simmons

The Karen Simmons Study Room is open for use at Douglas County Library. It’s a new space dedicated in memory of Simmons, who was a longtime children’s librarian and library director. She was killed in a vehicle accident on her way to work last February. (Amy Chaffins/Echo Press)

A woman who dedicated her career to children, reading and libraries has been memorialized in a way that will forever bring comfort to local library visitors.

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Karen Simmons, rememberedThe Douglas County Library’s Friends of the Library organization recently remodeled and opened the Karen E. Simmons Study Room at the library.

Simmons was the children’s librarian for 23 years before she took over as library director in January 2011. She was killed in a car accident on her way to work on February 25, 2013. She was 62.

The study is a cozy, comfortable, welcoming space – just like Karen’s personality.

There are lots of photos on the walls showing fun things Karen did with kids over the years, like storytelling, show and tell, petting zoos and more.

She also loved woodpeckers and she was a fan of Gone with the Wind. There’s a woodpecker painting on the wall and a Gone with the Wind movie poster hanging there, too.

Preparing the space involved moving out study carrels and moving in comfortable chairs, tables and wall décor. The room is also scheduled for painting soon.

“We just tried to make it a little more homey,” Tom Johnson said.

A committee that included Johnson, Deb Trumm and Tony Cremers worked out the details.

“We talked about what to do and Tony Cremers had the idea to do a memorial study room. We already had a study room at the library so we made it the Karen Simmons Study Room.

Johnson said, “The people who come in here… they really like it. They say, ‘I always liked coming in here, but now that these chairs are in here I like to just come in here and read.’ ”

Johnson said what he remembers most fondly about Karen was her spiky hair and smile.

“She was a lot of fun,” he said.

DEDICATION SATURDAY The study room will be officially dedicated on Saturday, January 25 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the library. The public is welcome to attend.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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