Dona Gay has been a mainstay at the Payson Library since 2013. For the first four years, she worked as Youth Services Librarian, then took over as Library Director in 2017 when long-time director Linda Collard retired after 30 years.
Gay’s library career started in Springville. “I was a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and needed a part-time job,” she recalled, “so I got a job at the Springville Library as a substitute clerk in 2007.”
While working there, and, after expressing interest in being a librarian, the director encouraged Gay to get a master’s degree. Since there were no master’s degree programs for librarians in Utah, she got her degree from the University of North Texas’ online master’s program in 2011.
After six years at the Springville Library, Gay jumped to the Payson Library in 2013, setting her on the path to guiding and directing that library to fills its role in the community.
“I believe a library is a reflection of a community,” she said. “It’s also a hub for the community. I think our library is growing to fill those roles very well. We’ve received a lot of help and support from the city and community partners along the way.”
As she strives to improve her library, Gay encourages members of the community to use the library’s resources, which are more than just books. She also encourages feedback and suggestions that can help make an already-good library even better. Basically, she wants patrons to come to the library.
“At the risk of sounding sadistic,” she said, “I love it when little children cry because they don’t want to leave our library. They love it so much that they just want to stay there. It means we’re doing our jobs.”
Gay is quick to point out that it’s the staff that deserves the credit for the library’s success. “We’re really, really lucky to have the staff we do,” she added.
The mother of eight and grandmother of seven (soon to be eight), Gay grew up in Arizona where she was a regular at her local library.
“I grew up going to libraries,” she recalled. “I started out by going to story time and would ride my bike to the library. Libraries have always been a passion to me.”
Like other libraries in the area, the Payson Library has a variety of items, besides books, available for checkout, including GoPro cameras, one of which Gay reports is at the bottom of Utah Lake. “It was a prom date gone bad, apparently,” she said. “So, you have to be careful when checking out one of our cameras.” (Martinez is a Serve Daily contributor.)