Look among the stacks of books at the Highland Park Library, and you’ll find Bonnie Case, helping patrons with their research and inspiring them to love to read.
“Being able to help people all day long — it’s very satisfying,” Case said.
The town’s longest tenured employee, Case is just the third person to hold the position of head librarian.
Approximately five decades ago, a high school teacher inspired Case to become a librarian.
“It was chemistry class, and I knew I didn’t want to be a chemist, so I learned something in chemistry that I retained,” she said with a laugh.
The Kentucky native and Vanderbilt graduate moved to Dallas in 1972 with her husband, Tom. Case worked at the Dallas Public Library for two years while she completed her master’s degree at the University of North Texas. She started working at the Highland Park Library in 1974, and she’s been there ever since.
“This is a community that’s well-educated,” she said. “They appreciate learning and support the library more than perhaps in some other communities, which is a challenge and a great pleasure.”
A self-professed lifelong lover of learning, Case said that she enjoys discovering new subjects with her patrons.
“It’s not at all unusual for someone to ask about something that’s not in my knowledge range,” she said. “That’s part of the fun.”
Although all patrons are important to Case, she is particularly passionate about engaging young readers. When she started, there was just one story time a week. Now there are three, each one catering to a different age group.
“We want to make each visit a very pleasant one for children, so they enjoy visiting and so they feel comfortable,” Case said.
Each summer, Case heads up fun activities and themed programs designed to encourage reading.
“Teachers say that young children who are just learning to read, if they don’t use those skills over the summer, once they go back to school, it can take five to six weeks to get them back to where they were,” Case said. “Anything to encourage them to use those skills helps in the fall.”
Case said that libraries are important because they serve everyone, from young to old, in sickness and in health.
Assistant librarian May Chao, who has worked with Case for 17 years, said that if her boss learned that a patron was sick, she would deliver books to their house.
“She’s always there to help,” Chao said.
During her tenure, Case has overseen the transition from such technological advances as books on cassette to downloadable ebooks and audiobooks; she’s helped expand the collection of large-print books for all ages; and she’s collaborated with Highland Park United Methodist Church to help create the “Authors Live” series.
Case said that getting to know the community and its literary needs is her favorite part of her job.
“You get to know their preferences for authors, so that when an author comes out with a new book, the library staff can put a hold on it for the person and they get an automatic call,” she said. “You just don’t get to know the people and have the opportunity to do that at a large library.”