Library helps Fort Worth woman learn, dream and do new things

Published on June 06, 2024

Cropped image of East Regional Library patron Lori Baurys

Lori Baurys was trying to finish creating the bunny, but her brother just wouldn’t leave her alone.

He kept texting her while she was sitting in Painting Club at the East Regional Library. Once she was finished, she snapped a photo of her rabbit artwork and shared it with him. He was impressed and challenged her to create a watercolor portrait of his dog Charlie.

“And that's where it began,” Baurys said. “I practiced, then painted Charlie's portrait and gifted it to my brother. Then my daughters asked for portraits of their pets, and their friends asked for portraits of their pets and offered to pay me to paint them.”

In the past year, she’s painted about 20 portraits including dogs, horses, a sheep and a longhorn steer – many she got paid for. She donated a portrait of a stallion for a Missouri ranch’s auction, and it raised $400 for its operations.


Taking care of business

After Baurys moved to Fort Worth about three years ago to take a new job, she quickly realized that she needed to bolster her computer skills. She visited the East Regional Library to ask about available classes. That’s when she met Library Assistant Kelli Koeppen.

“I started asking her questions about what she was searching for,” Koeppen said. “She mentioned that she was one, looking for a community and two, struggling with her new workplace responsibilities and its demand for her to understand and use Microsoft Excel.” She gave Baurys information about East Regional’s Excel computer class but also mentioned other activities.

“From there, Ms. Lori really took the initiative to get involved at the library and has taken advantage of what the library has and can offer her and has run with it,” Koeppen said.


Plugging in

Adult Librarian Christy Jarrett taught the Excel class.

“She came to us to help her with her job, but then as we got to know her, she joined Painting Club and Sit & Stitch as well,” Jarrett said. “She was eager to learn about Excel and asked the questions, and for fun she tried Painting Club and discovered she had an artistic gift she was unaware of. As people try new things – for free - at their library, they have the chance to learn new skills and make new friends.”

Koeppen says a key to understanding what someone wants is to patiently and genuinely listen. Spending a few extra minutes in conversation can help lead people of all ages to participate in library programs, she said.

“With adult patrons, I have found that they don't always understand that there are more than just story times available,” she said. “I have found that once a participant has attended a solid three programs, they are much more likely to return and come to a variety of programming. It is getting that buy-in, though, that is essential for that to happen.” 


On to the next chapter

Baurys has become more efficient at her job thanks to the computer classes, has made dear friends in the Sit & Stitch group and continues to find success with her art. The library has become a safe and welcoming space for her.

“It’s safe but it is also fun,” she said. “There are programs for every age. The library staff is knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. The teachers in the Painting Club encouraged us to just let loose and have fun. Don’t judge our work or compare it to others. There is a sense of community at the library and I feel very welcome when I am there.”

The Fort Worth Public Library’s mission is to build a community of learners, dreamers and doers. Baurys said that slogan applies her experience at the Library. She learned how to paint, dreamed that she would paint well enough to sell her work and is now doing that.

Koeppen said she has enjoyed watching Baurys on her journey.

“Ms. Lori has been a delight to see ‘grow’ into herself with the help of the library,” Koeppen said. “I enjoy seeing her and getting updates about the next exciting thing that she has made happen for herself. It was my pleasure to chat with her at that initial meeting and introduce her to all that the library has to offer.”

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