TSAILE-Vicky Beatty loves her job, you can ask anyone at Dine’ College.
Beatty’s dedication to education and learning has taken her across the reservation, as she brought virtual library services to the satellite campuses of Dine’ College in Arizona.
The virtual library brought students much-needed resources.
“You can think of a virtual library as a library without walls, available anytime and any place, with just a library card and an internet connection,” Beatty said.
The virtual library is comprised of electronic copies of books, magazines and newspapers. Beyond the virtual library, she’s also helped students access hands-on materials as well.
Beatty has worked as a librarian for Dine College for about four years now. But, she is no stranger to the library system.
Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Beatty earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English from the University of Missouri at Columbia. She also has a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Washington.
“I have worked at university libraries in Missouri, Texas, Washington State, as well as the Seattle Public Library,” Beatty said.
Currently, she is the regional librarian for Dine’ College and is planning for the addition of another librarian for the western region in the coming months.
She said spending the first three years of work as the traveling instruction/distance services librarian equated to a lot of miles on the road, just to share the knowledge.
Her interest in libraries and academia began at a young age.
“When I was a small kid, my paternal grandparents took me to the Seattle World’s Fair, where I saw the Library of the Future exhibit,” Beatty said. “I was inspired by its space sge blend of new technologies and a diverse, inviting community environment.
“I wanted to be a 21st century librarian,” she said.
Today, libraries have become dynamic learning centers, as well as community gathering places, she said.
Libraries combine Internet access with databases of information not freely available on the Internet, she added.
Increasingly, modern libraries are available from computer desktops and mobile devices.
“In a world that is information rich, librarians are information smart,” Beatty said.
She said the duty of librarians is to help people make sense of information by teaching new literacies for navigating and interpreting the world of information.
Becoming proficient in the new technologies is standard operating procedure for today’s librarian, in spite of the exponential wave of digitization taking effect across the globe.
“While many people predicted the demise of libraries with the advent of the Internet, we’ve seen visits to public libraries double over the past 10 years to more than 1.2 billion per year,” Beatty said.
Citing her statistics from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, she said more than half of the American population used libraries during the past year.
“Young adults were the most likely to use libraries for problem solving and general use,” Beatty said. “In the library, people were active and happy.”
She said libraries live at the heart of their communities, empowering people to dream, learn and grow.
She believes digitizing libraries is step in right direction.
“Digitization projects are an example of how libraries invest in the future, while preserving the past,” Beatty said.
Friday Nights at the Library was launched in Fall 2005.
Dine’ College humanities faculty member Erik Bitsui and David Hurley of the Tsaile Library helped Beatty launch the open mic night.
“The following year, we were awarded a grant from the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, with additional support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services,” she said.
The open mic events are casual and laid-back, which creates a supportive atmosphere for creative people, she said. Seeing adults and children share their talents is rewarding.
“One of my favorite moments happened when two little girls stepped shyly to the open mic in Window Rock last year,” Beatty said.
She recalled, “As the younger sister read a poem honoring their grandmother, the older sister unfolded a life-sized crayon portrait of their grandmother that was taller than she was.”
The face of libraries has changed drastically through the years and more are sure to come.
“Libraries have come a long way from the days when they were more like deep freezes, or glorified root cellars,” Beatty said. “They are vital community centers where people gather to share stories.”
The Window Rock Wellness Center is the place to be for health-inclined individuals.
With over 10,000 square feet of space, the facility is stocked with free weights, stationary bikes, stair steppers, nautilus equipment and an assortment of body bars, jump ropes and other aerobic equipment.
If that’s not enough reason to get into shape, there are also male and female saunas, in addition to a massage and chiropractic room for therapeutic benefits. To distract the senses, pumping music ranging from alternative, electronica and classic rock ring through the facility, while a bank of televisions provide visual stimulation.
Operated by the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Program, the wellness center is free of charge to the public. Since opening its doors for business on Nov. 6, 2006, the wellness center has promoted a healthy lifestyle for the community.
On April 14, 2008, wellness center coordinator Paul Tso III said he is proud of the facility, which currently has 4,637 enrolled clients. The center averages about 400 people per day, he said.
“We try to offer classes to the community, such as spinning, aerobics, plyometrics and yoga,” Tso said. “We also have cardio machines, free weights and nautilus machines.
“We try to target all aspects of wellness, not just the physical part,” he said.
That means growing an easy-going, happy environment for members.
Because most people frequent the center to relieve daily stress, he said ensuring clients are comfortable is important.
“We want to bring the stress levels down and help our clientele do their exercises correctly and safely,” Tso said.
One client is particularly satisfied with the benefits of the WRWC.
Ettie Anderson, 32, has been going to the wellness center on a regular basis since Jan. 2007 and said she joined because it was free.
Anderson said, “I think it’s important to have wellness centers in Navajo communities because they’re free and they promote a healthy lifestyle by encouraging young and old to exercise.”
A runner since high school, Anderson said she ran during her own time, or went to the sports center before the WRWC opened. Employees of the facility are helpful and proficient in healthy living, she said.
Anderson is currently training for her first marathon and can run eight miles in 63 minutes. Wellness center staff helped her with weight training, which has conditioned her body for speed.
“I think all the employees are knowledgeable in their own area, it depends on what the individual member wants,” Anderson said. “Whether it’s to lose weight, gain muscle, or run farther.”
Tso agrees the public will find the exercise regimen needed to get fit and underscores the fact all trainers are certified.
Teaching several classes a week, Tso is certified in resist-a-ball, body bar, plyometrics, Pilates and kickboxing.
With a staff of 10, Tso said the center’s peak hours are early morning, noon and evenings.
He said there are also especially dedicated members who spend a large part of the day at the facility.
“We have some people that will be in here spinning for over six hours,” Tso said. “To them, the wellness center is a second home.”
Fitness activities for youth are also a part of the center, most notably the Sports Play Activity and Recreation for Kids program he said.
The SPARKs program was created at Oklahoma University and is a format that’s been recreated on the Navajo Nation, he said.
With over 21,000 Navajos directly affected by diabetes, Tso said fostering a healthy lifestyle is intrinsic in combating the disease.
The wellness center was recently funded for $5 million for FY 2009 in Feb., Tso said. He said the equipment inside the facility is only half of what was ordered from Life Fitness.
“We have another set in storage, which will be going out to Dilkon and Hard Rock,” he said. “Those centers are under construction now and will get new equipment and staff.”
The Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Program has also taken the reins of the Many Farms, Crownpoint and Tuba City centers, he said, which will also receive new equipment.
Tso admits he loves his job because it allows him to exercise when he’s instructing a class during the day.
Because of this love for fitness, he encourages all people to exercise.
"A lot of people are self conscious and stay away from the center because they believe the gym is only for fit people," he said.
Not true, he says, especially once the results begin show.
He recalled one client who always wore a burgundy sweater when she first started going to the gym. The sweater came off two months later, after intense workouts resulting in noticeable weight loss and the client was bursting with confidence.
“Exercise uplifts the spirit,” Tso said. “People are always looking for the ‘Fountain of Youth’ and with exercise, that’s what they will find.”
Vincent Nez, 40, of St. Michaels found youth and more when he first stepped into the wellness center in 2006.
Nez has diabetes.
“I got diagnosed with diabetes and my doctor told me to get a lot of exercise,” Nez said. “That’s why I started coming over here.”
Weighing over 200 pounds at the start of his training, Nez has shed considerable sweat to achieve his current 145-pound body.
“I feel pretty good now. The people who work here help you a lot,” he said with a smile.
Nez was working out his upper body during the interview, focusing on chest, shoulders, arms, neck and abs. He said the next day would concentrate on legs, rolling the cycle through the week.
The message is simple, Nez said, it’s just a matter of exercise.
“A lot of people out there have diabetes. They should come here because it’s pretty good. I’ve been there – the doctor told me I had diabetes. Now, I’ve come this far and everything is going pretty good,” he said.
The Window Rock Wellness Center is open Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.