Parks' passion is literacy, says Kathy Emerson, director of the market. And Parks' goal is to introduce people, who may not have the resources or the time, to the information available at public libraries. Parks, described by Emerson as reserved, could not be reached by phone by press time.
An individual who asks not to be named is sponsoring Parks' Thursday and special-event appearances at the market and has paid for the installation of an outdoor phone line for the Internet connection.
With the technology and her own experience, Parks is expanding the way people view librarians and library services, Emerson says. For example, she says, Parks recently became aware that many of the market's vendors are women who frequently bring their children to work with them.
Parks did some research and discovered that the magazine Oxygen was awarding $10,000 grants to women struggling to maintain their own businesses. She has encouraged some of the women vendors to apply for the money.
Parks also compiled a resource book with various information and ideas for people who attended the Que Pasa Latin American Music Festival held at the market two months ago.
"She's just so amazing," Emerson says. "Patty makes the changing landscape of libraries accessible and breaks down the intimidation factor."
And it must be handy having speedy answers to some zany puzzlers, as when Emerson recently went through three cartons of eggs in which each one had a double yolk. Thinking it a bizarre coincidence or some chemically altered oddity, Emerson asked Parks about it. In minutes she keyed up an answer. It was not what Emerson had expected.
"Patty did some research and found out that in some ways chickens are very much like us" as women, Emerson says. "Both very young and older chickens that lay eggs are more likely to lay double-yolk eggs," Emerson explains. "That Patty found this out is just the most amazing thing." Brandon Walters
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