You have worked at the Ellsworth Public Library for a long time (18 years to be more precise)! I’m sure a lot has changed in that time. What are some of the most noticeable differences between “then” and “now”?
Some of the noticeable differences between 1994 and 2012 at the Ellsworth Public Library are:
We had one electric typewriter and one small copier. That’s it. That was our electronic equipment.
We hand wrote patron’s card numbers on an index sized book card which then was filed in a wooden box, and hand stamped the due date in the back of the book. Now its all electronic.
Staff consisted of 9 persons (Edmund, Charlene and Nancy are still there) all full time and year round. Now there are 11 year round persons and 2 extras for the summer months.
The Ellsworth American newspaper was mostly paper copies and only the very early years on microfilm.. now all years are on film and updated yearly.
There were 2 story times and third Sat. Now there are 3 weekly and third Sat, AND book clubs, Lego club, writing club, sleepy club, vacation week programs etc.
There was one adult program per month. Now adult programs are usually weekly plus 2 knitting groups, genealogy, book club, tightwads, writing group and Civil War biography book group….
What is one of your favorite memories from the library?
A favorite memory was a request from an out-of-state lady in her 70’s who wrote and asked for any information about her father, a firefighter. When she was two years old and living in Ellsworth he was killed in a fire that burned the front section of the court house. A year or two later her mother remarried and her father was never spoken of again. She had no picture of him. She wanted to be able to share something specific with her children who were now grown. Using The Ellsworth American I found the report and details of the fire ,and accident (the bell tower was supported by huge wooden beams that burned out and the bell came down through- he was caught in that somehow) and about him as a man. There was obituary information about the wife, daughter and other family members. I can’t now remember details but the part that touches my heart was the picture of this tall, handsome fireman in his dress uniform. I made a copy. I wrote her a letter telling her to make a cup of tea and sit down before opening the rest of my package. She wrote back her appreciation telling me that she had burst into tears. Doing reference research for people is always satisfying but doesn’t usually make either one of us cry.
Why did you decide to become a librarian?
I’m not sure about my original motivation but I’ve always cared about helping people and as a librarian it’s a daily satisfaction. Many people for one reason or another were never able to pursue all the education they would have liked but having a library in the community they are able to continue personal education at their own pace. The process of inter-library loan is to borrow books, that Ellsworth Public Library either can’t afford or doesn’t have the space for, from other libraries across the country. This service makes any pursuit possible.
One lady borrowed EPL Books to learn how to apply tile behind her kitchen counters. She was so pleased with the results that she then did her bathroom. Another used EPL and ILL books to have a “green and efficient” new home built.
Have you ever attended a lecture where the speaker says ” any questions?” and because you are not familiar with the topic you can’t even ask a question? I think we as librarians can fill that gap. We can find enough information for persons to cover a topic from different angles until they can find the answers to the questions they can’t even ask at the start.
Not everyday but regularly you can have that good feeling of having benefited someone’s life. Not many jobs do that for employees.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to new librarians?
Number one piece of advice to new librarians is ” follow the rules”. Sometimes people don’t like a rule (and are not shy about expressing that) because it doesn’t suit them but the rules benefit the community as a whole and in the long run that individual will respect you. Number two piece of advice to new librarians is “love your neighbor”. Just be ready to help people and you’ll find the regulars will turn and help others, like at the computers or speaking up with information that visitors are asking for. It all contributes to a family feeling at the library.
What will you miss the most about the job?
Miss about the job? I expect to be homesick. Four of us have been together for 18 years, 35-40 hours a week. That’s more than some siblings spend together. All the “newer” staff are every one important to me. And then there are the regular weekly patrons. I sure hope all these folks are in the library or grocery store when I am so I get to see them. The books and information will always be available in different ways it’s the people (even the quirky ones) that I’ll miss.
Thank you, Marie. We will surely miss you, too. Congratulations to you and your husband on your retirement!