Elissa Dickson

Elissa Dickson, former adult programs specialist at the Wilkinson Public Library, leaps across the stage during 2019’s Vaudeville as part of a “semi-professional ribbon wand act.” (Courtesy photo)

You may have seen her leaping through the air beneath the rainbow swirl of her ribbon wand onstage at the annual Vaudeville show. Perhaps you’ve heard her performing her socially conscious slam poetry as the former San Miguel County Poet Laureate. Or maybe you’ve painted pumpkins or crafted collages with her during the popular Adult Craft Night at the library. One way or another, if you’ve attended an event sponsored by the library in the past 10 years, chances are you’ve benefited from the efforts of Elissa Dickson, adult programs specialist at the Wilkinson Public Library (WPL).

After over a decade of service to the community, her time at the library and in the box canyon is coming to a close. This week, Dickson departs for a new chapter, as she’s moving to Europe to pursue opportunities there.

“Elissa has brought so much joy and life to the adult and teen programs throughout her 10 years of service at the library,” said Jill Wilson, WPL public services manager.

The story of how Dickson ended up at the library is a one that begins, like so many good tales, at summer camp. In this case, it was during the sunny summer of 2009 when Dickson was working as a camp counselor at Telluride Academy, leading kids on adventures down rivers, through the mountains and into their imaginations as they adventured together in the outdoors. As fate would have it, the daughters of two library employees were in her mountain biking camp, and at the end of the two-week program, then-teen specialist Sarah Lawton approached her. She encouraged Dickson to apply for an open position in the teen services department, and not long after, Dickson joined the team at WPL.

During those early days of her tenure in the teen area, Dickson dreamed up animated new programs that brought teens to the library, even after hours on one occasion.

“We did a sleepover for the release of ‘Mockingjay,’ the last of the ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy,” she recalled. “All the kids who’d completed their summer reading challenge got to bring their sleeping bags and do a lock-in, read-in overnight. We even created our own ‘Hunger Games’ characters, and did a role play with different challenges.”

In 2013, she moved from the teen department to her current role as the adult programs specialist, creating and implementing an array of community events, from the beloved yoga and fitness classes, to local chef workshops and craft nights.

Possibly her favorite brainchild was the creation of Vaudeville, an annual showcase for local talent performed at the Transfer Warehouse, during which the audience was treated to a night of stand-up comedy, live music and acrobatics.

Harkening back to her love of summer camp, Dickson said, “Because Telluride kind of feels like adult summer camp, for a long time I thought, ‘We just need a camp talent show in this town, no long rehearsal process.’ We have so many talented artists in this community, and such a variety. I wanted a rootsy, laid-back-style event to showcase that.”

Whether through music, film, art or other events, Dickson always reveled in the vibrancy of the Telluride community as a creative canvas for new event ideas.

“Our community is so curious and insatiable in their desire to experience and try things out, and to learn about everything under the sun,” she said. “There was a lot of opportunity to be creative with ways to entertain, education and provide opportunities for the public. It is such a fun community to serve.”

While Dickson is off to new adventures across the pond, her presence at WPL and in the box canyon will be missed.

“We are going to miss her kind nature, her giant hugs, her infectious smile and her playful banter,” Wilson said. “And most of all, her phenomenal ribbon wand skills.”