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Library has new show, and Chaffee is back on the job

Look familiar? It’s Katie Chaffee, who is again pleased to be working as the public library’s event and gallery coordinator.

The show must go on. At the River Falls Public Library, those shows are once again being set up and organized by Katie Chaffee.

Chaffee, 65, left her post as the library's event/gallery coordinator in June 2010 to retire. She held the job for more than six years.

Chaffee is now unretired, having been rehired last month after the departure of Jera Terreng -- her successor and now, ironically, her predecessor.

"I took a three-year vacation," Chaffee laughed. "It's wonderful to be back. The people here are extraordinary.

"I had every intention of retiring, but my financial circumstances changed. I got a divorce, and I needed to augment my single income."

When Chaffee saw the library job opening, she thought: "All right. I can do that."

Library Director Nancy Miller said of Chaffee's rehiring: "It's hard to beat experience."

Miller said there were 15 applicants for the 30-hour-a-week event/gallery coordinator job. Three finalists, including Chaffee, were interviewed.

Chaffee's first day back was last week Monday, July 15. "It's like I never left," she said.

For Chaffee, the hardest part about applying for and reclaiming her library job was having to give up her newly won District 2 City Council job.

Chaffee beat incumbent David Reese in the spring election. She served just over a month on the council before resigning to apply for the library job. She could not legally be a city employee and council member.

"It was very painful. I felt like I had let people down," she said. "I had a lot of explaining to do, and some were disappointed at first.

The library's gallery is in the lower level. It houses nine or 10 exhibits a year, many with history and art themes, most with a local angle. The gallery is also where the Halloween Haunted House is held.

Chaffee has stepped into the midst of the gallery's new show: "Push me, Pull you."

It's not her show but she helped set it up for this week's opening.

The idea came from Ellsworth poet Elise Gregory. It's a collaboration between area poets and artists.

They have paired off, with a poet reacting to an artist's work by matching a poem to it and vice versa, with that artist reacting to a poet's poem by attaching a work of art.

There are some 40 pairings exhibited for "Push Me, Pull You."

From 6-8 p.m. this Thursday, July 18, there's a public reception for the show in the library gallery. At 6:30 p.m. there will be a show tour and poetry presentation. Refreshments will be available.

"Push Me, Pull You" runs through Aug. 17. It's open during normal library hours except for weekday mornings when the show opens at 10 a.m. while the library opens at 9 a.m.

For the complete story, please see the July 18 print edition of the River Falls Journal.