Local librarian bids farewell to Winters

Toni Mendieta has served as the Winters Community Library Branch Supervisor for 15 years. Courtesy photo

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After more than a decade of service, Toni Mendieta is moving on from her role as Winters Community Library branch supervisor. Although saddened to leave, this Oakland girl reflects on her 15-year tenure and accomplishments with pride. Growing up, Mendieta’s father would take her to visit local libraries in the Bay Area. Librarians became first-name basis friends, and affinity for what they do — and what they add to the community — took root. “I had just graduated from UC Davis and came on as a youth service coordinator working through AmeriCorps at the Yolo County Library in 2005,” Mendieta said about her path to becoming the Winters library branch supervisor. “When that period came to an end, the person in the supervisor position retired and it became a modified position to change with the times. I had to apply, it was competitive, and I got the position in 2009.” To Mendieta, libraries are a sanctuary for equality and information. No matter who you are, what your background is, everyone is welcome. It’s through this passion that began her love story with Winters and the community’s families. “When people are treated with love, beautiful things can come from that,” Mendieta shared her philosophy on libraries’ integral role in their communities. “The troubled kids are my favorite. They keep me on my toes, and I love them even more because I get to talk to them about life and what’s important to them. Whether they’ve upset me, forgot a book or stole a book, they’re always welcome back. That’s how life is — you’re going to have a chance to do better. And if libraries are doing their job, the kids will come back.” In her time in Winters, Mendieta established a number of afterschool programs and wrangled all manners of people into the library. Her work ethic, passion and personality not only left an indelible mark on the community, but coworkers as well. “Toni’s passion for building community and improving life is evident throughout her work,” said Crista Cannariato, West Yolo Library Regional Supervisor. “She makes time to develop a personal connection with everyone she encounters, whether they be a toddler attending one of her story-times, an elementary school student taking part in the RISE Student Success program, a tween taking part in the Walk and Talk book club she developed, or an elder in the community.” All good things must come to an end, however, and her co-workers are sad to see her leave. “Toni is one of the most empathetic people I’ve ever met, and her dedication to the community is amazing,” said Scott Love, West Yolo Library Regional Manager. “We’re sad that Winters is losing her, but excited for what she’ll bring to the residents of the Capay Valley.” As difficult of a decision it is to leave a place after so long, Mendieta knows it’s time to move. “The pandemic and being at home were getting to me, and I just felt like I needed a change,” Mendieta said about her decision to transfer to Esparto Regional Library. “I believe in Winters so much, and I feel like I needed to share it with another librarian. Winters deserves a fresh face and so does Esparto. I’m still coming up with ways to come back to Winters to see my ‘babies’ and the families. I also think Esparto needs a Spanish speaker and want to make sure people know they are welcome.” Although Winters is losing such an infectious personality, change is an inevitable, constant in life. And as Mendieta takes her passion and love for community up County Road 89, it will forever be felt back at the Winters Community Library.

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