By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
After 11 years as manager of the Qualla Boundary Public Library, Robin Swayney will be changing jobs. But, she looks at it not so much as leaving the Library but transitioning in her work. Swayney will start her new job as genealogist/archivist at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian on Monday, Oct. 2.
“The ironic thing is that when I first moved back here, one of the first jobs that I got was to be a library aide at the high school,” she noted. “So, everybody associated me with the high school library. It’s interesting how things come around full circle. Most of the kids that I had at the high school now have kids that come into the Library, and that’s one of the joys of being here.”
Libraries and archives seem to be a natural fit for Swayney.
“I’ve always had a passion for reading,” she said. “It’s like I was destined to do it. Every book is an adventure waiting to happen. I like spreading that joy of reading to other people, and I’ll probably continue to do that. I’ve been here so long that people associate me with that. I don’t think I’ll ever be rid of the library association ever, and that’s kind of cool.”
Swayney has started numerous programs at the Library geared towards youth. Her favorite has been the Summer Reading Program. “I always got excited to start that and my interaction with the kids. I always wanted to be an art teacher, and I tried that and it just didn’t work out. But, I still wanted to work with kids. At this job, one of the most rewarding parts is working with the younger kids and instilling a love of reading.”
While she will miss the Library, Swayney is excited to delve into two more of her passions – Cherokee culture and history. “Through Right Path, in the pilot program, they gave you little tidbits of Cherokee history, and I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know…I got to thinking how many people out here have lived their whole life and really don’t know anything about our history except for the depictions that you see at the drama or the village or even craft-wise; such as treaties and who played major roles in how we are here.”
She added, “There’s a lot of misinformation out there.”
Swayney was a founding member of the Qualla Boundary Historical Society which has been going strong for over two years. “We wanted to have an avenue where we could bring people in and draw the community in to share that different knowledge…it wasn’t just me, it was a mixture of people that made this group happen.”
She said she doesn’t feel there is a large enough focus on the history of Cherokee people. “We have a lot of focus on the language. We have a lot on the crafts. But, just basic history, there isn’t a whole lot out there, and I’m looking forward to working to make that more present.”
“I look at this as a new path, a new journey.”