The librarian’s hidden expertise brightens the times of the Albuquerque Journal readers

Rhonda Trujillo, Lending Manager at Los Griegos Library, designed the paper mache lion and mouse that greet visitors to the library. (Liam Debonis / For the magazine)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Publisher’s Note: The journal continues “The Good News File,” a series of uplifting stories in collaboration with KOAT-TV and KKOB Radio. The journal publishes “Good News” on the first Friday of the month, KOAT-TV every second Friday and KKOB every third Friday.

Rhonda Trujillo has discovered a hidden talent, and it brightens the days for kids and guests in the North Valley.

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Trujillo works as a lending supervisor in the Los Griegos library and makes life-size paper mache figures for display there. Trujillo said she never planned to become a librarian, let alone an artist. The characters coincide with the theme of the library system’s annual summer reading program.

“I didn’t go to art school,” she said. “I just remember making paper mache when I was little. If you show me how to do something and I’m zealous enough, I can do it. “

Branch manager Nicholas Newlin said it was a tradition that started four years ago and quickly became a popular feature in the library.

“It’s very popular,” he said. “People enjoy it.”

In September of this year, it will be 21 years since Trujillo began working for the Albuquerque / Bernalillo County Library System. About six years ago, while working at the South Valley Library, she got the idea to sponsor a monthly reading competition.

“I did some little handicrafts,” she said. “I did a little basketball and a baseball. Then my manager said, ‘I would like to have an Eiffel Tower.’ I told her that I can do that. “

And do one that she made.

She built the tower out of cardboard and used brown paint. It stretched from floor to ceiling and greeted guests as they entered. When Trujillo moved to Los Griegos, she knew she wanted to continue with what she had started.

In June and July, the libraries run a reading program that encourages children to read while they are out of school in the summer. Every year has a different theme and she decided to make objects out of paper mache.

“I’ve become more creative,” she says. “My work is done by looking at a picture.”

Rhonda Trujillo, the Loan of the Los Griegos Library, created a kite for the summer reading program a few years ago. The sculpture can still be seen today in the Los Griegos library. (Liam Debonis / For the magazine)

This year’s theme was “Tails and Tales” and focused on stories with animals.

Trujillo created a life-size lion and mouse to portray the fable about a lion showing mercy on a captured mouse. Some time later, the lion is trapped and the mouse rescues him, proving that a kind deed is never wasted. The two are sitting to the right of the main desk next to a large tree that Trujillo also made.

“Our customers love it,” she says. “I like to do it because it inspires people and makes the children so happy.”

Newlin said that one of the best parts of Trujillo’s creations is their use of recycled materials from the library – old newspapers, old flyers, discarded paper.

Trujillo said people always wonder what she’s up to next, and she almost always has an answer. Because it takes about six months for one of their projects to be completed. The library gives her a few hours each week to work on it.

The theme for next year will focus on the ocean and Trujillo has already started work. She wants to get bigger and better.

“I’m going out a little more,” she said. “I’ve already made a dolphin, a sea turtle, a crab, a sea lion, a half whale, octopus, clams, and some fish.”

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