By Amy Woods
From her first day to her last, the director of community relations at the Delray Beach Public Library loved her job.
“It spoke to all the things that I enjoyed doing,” said Bonnie Stelzer, who officially retired Feb. 29 after 17 years of creative ingenuity. “Every day was a great day.”
Stelzer’s charismatic career led the library to grow its volunteer corps to 100 from 10, debut the annual “Authors Showcase” featuring 12 regional writers and their books and introduce the popular, punch-line-packed fundraiser “Laugh with the Library.”
On her watch, the Children’s Department expanded by 5,000 square feet thanks to a successful “Foothold on the Future Campaign” she helped shepherd, and hundreds of programs for the littlest readers to the oldest rolled out for all to enjoy. “We were able to create so many things without having to be subject to the branches or the county system or the city,” Stelzer said.
The West Atlantic Avenue facility operates as an independent nonprofit with a mission to provide an extensive collection that includes audio and large-print books, DVDs and other electronic media, materials focused on Florida and a nonstop events calendar.
“The possibilities were endless, and my imagination went crazy,” Stelzer said. “There are more than 300 free programs at the library now.”
She founded the Lifelong Learning Community Institute, one of two statewide housed in a library (the other is in Winter Park), brought in area artists to hang their works (the exhibitions are booked through 2017 with a waiting list after that) and developed a four-month concert series now sponsored by MorseLife Health System.
“It was most fun for me because I really was able to take any idea that I had and run with it, and most of them were successful,” Stelzer said. “It was a feeling of accomplishment. It’s been very rewarding.”
The Brooklyn, N.Y., native plans to travel, try her hand at painting and visit more with her two adult sons.
“It’s time for me,” said Stelzer, who declined to give her age. “There are things that I haven’t tried that I want to try. Now, every day is like Friday. It’s really quite wonderful.”
Library Director Alan Kornblau said her news-release skills, task-mastery and way with words will be missed.
“She was very well-organized and very independent,” Kornblau said. “She brought a lot to the library. She created a buzz.” Stelzer worked so efficiently that her position now will be divided into two jobs.
“We do more adult programming than any other library I’ve been associated with, and she was in charge of all that,” Kornblau said. “It’s a better place because of her. She was very successful.”
By Amy Woods