Posted Sep 26, 2023
How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard - Winnie the Pooh
After four decades, I will be retiring from the Shorewood Library this fall. I am often asked how I could have stayed at one job for so long. The answer is two-fold. In many ways it is a very different job than it was when I started. I have worked in three different buildings and with five different directors. The library world is dynamic and constantly evolving allowing me to change and grow with it.
Despite all of the changes, the public library's mission remains the same. The public library’s doors are still open to all. We still strive to be a welcoming, non-judgemental, supportive place. Early in my career, a little boy asked me if I could help him find out how much a wrecking ball weighed. In that pre-Google era, I looked through all of the resources I could think of but couldn’t find an answer. I asked him if he needed the information for a school project. With a disappointed look and sad voice, he told me he didn’t “gotta know, but I really wanna know.” I told him I’d keep looking and he should stop in after school the next day. I spent the next morning with the phone book. After a few futile calls, I found a construction company foreman with an answer - “Lady, it depends what you’re wrecking. They can be any size from 20 pounds to 2 tons.” That afternoon, I had a very satisfied and happy customer. I truly believe the public library should be here for you whether you “gotta know” or “wanna know” whatever your question, age, income, or background.
The main thing that has kept me here for so many years is the community and the people in it. I have met amazing people and made life-long friends. My co-workers have been a source of support, guidance, and inspiration, professionally and personally. I have been able to work with some of the most dedicated and caring teachers imaginable. I have formed bonds with countless children and families. Years ago a performer at a library program asked me if any of the children there were mine. I answered “they are all mine.” I have always felt that. While they are here, they are my children, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Watching each of them grow into the unique and special people they are remains a wonder. I have celebrated first steps, first words, lost teeth, graduations, first jobs, and weddings. I hurt when I saw them struggling. I have cried at the funerals of several of them. I thank you for sharing both the happy and heartbreaking moments with me.
I hope that some of the things I started while here - the Summer Celebration, Early Learning Center, Great Pumpkin Hunt, and Shorewood Monarch Project - will continue and grow. Mostly, I hope I offered help at a moment you needed it whether it was finding a book, answering a question, providing a listening ear, a word of encouragement, or sharing a laugh. I hope I have touched your heart in some way. You have all touched mine in so many ways. Working with this community has been more than a privilege. It has been a blessing.