The Measure by Nikki Erlick: Eight ordinary people. One extraordinary choice. It seems like any…
Moscow-Pullman Daily News Article written by St. John Branch Manager, Clancy Pool, read full article here.
After almost 30 years, I’ll hand over the keys to the library.
In May 1992, I was hired as librarian for the St. John branch of the Whitman County Library District, and given the keys to the library. At the time, I was just looking for a part-time job that included a warm place to wait for my kids to get back from school events. Now I know I found my calling when I took those keys. Since then, I’ve had a bunch of different library keys, including ones that opened every door in every Whitman County Library. In almost 30 years, however, I’ve learned that what those keys gave me is more than a way to unlock doors. When I retire on Friday, Oct. 8 and hand the ring of keys to a new librarian, I’ll still have the friends, skills and memories that being the St. John librarian gave me.
A key to my library career success was building relationships. One of my favorite descriptions of a library is the living room of the community.
I used to remind new librarians that it is the community’s and not their personal living room. All are welcome, not just people you know or even like. I’ve met thousands of people in libraries, many of whom became personal friends. Occasionally I’ve served people that will never be my friends but hopefully all felt welcome. The same is true of co-workers and other librarians through the years. When we accomplished things together, we are all made stronger.
Creating lifelong learners is the mission of every library.
That isn’t just for the patrons. When I started, the computer skills needed were limited. We used a computer that did little more than track the books. There were no public computers or even internet in the library, so learning how to do computer training wasn’t required. Our only programs were for children and consisted of little more than reading a couple books and giving out coloring pages. Now we program for all ages from babies to seniors. Every program includes learning opportunities from prereading tips for parents to identity protection for adults. I’ve taught skills that I had to learn first, which forced me to be a lifelong learner. I’ve also learned that I don’t have to know everything, I just need to find someone willing to share their knowledge or an organization willing to send a trainer.
When I look back at all the years of memories, it’s hard to pick just a few.
I’ve won state and national awards and been featured for the work I did. (Being on the cover of a magazine is NOT as fun as you might think.) The best part about these recognitions is going to conferences and meeting other librarians. I’ve been to wonderful conferences where librarians share their experiences and learn from each other. I’ve been on the board of a national association for rural libraries and made lifelong friends across the country that share my passion for our profession. I’ve served my district in a variety of jobs.
For 16 years I was a full-time employee splitting my time between the St. John and the Colfax branch.
During that time, I supervised all the community branches, was responsible for the adult collections, wrote and managed grants and performed many other tasks. It was great to get a better understanding of how everything works in a system with 14 locations. I’ve helped raise money, plan, and then move into a new library. I’m sure most people consider that my biggest achievement. It took a long time and was a big commitment. For me, it was just what was needed to serve my community. Maybe the best memory came this year when two of my Storytime kids, now all grown up, brought their little ones to Storytime.
When I retire I’ll hand the building keys to a new librarian, but my memories remain with me. People have said I’ll be a tough act to follow, but I’m excited to see what the new librarian brings to St. John and experience the library as a patron.