Just a minute – what? I’m retiring? Yes – this is what has been running through my mind quite a bit since I decided that it was my time to retire.
So many thoughts and questions. Very often the first question I have heard is “what are you going to do?” My first response has been “whatever I want to!”
Mostly the idea of retiring has caused me to look back on the 29 years I have been part of Jake Epp Library. In fact it grieves me to say that many of our current patrons had not even been born when I started so far back in history.
My first involvement was in September 1990, with Story Hour and at that time we were the Steinbach Public Library. Both of my children were in school and it was a fun thing for me to plan stories and simple crafts. Then I was asked if I could take on the accounting because that person wanted to let it go. Great, I enjoyed doing accounting too and it was a nice, little, very part time, job. Suddenly there was talk of getting computers and becoming automated. Since I had experience with a computer at the time I volunteered to do some data entry. After a while I was asked to work some regular hours as a paid staff member and I learned the basics of cataloguing on a computer. I really enjoyed that and have ever since enjoyed working with computers and learning new techniques and new software. And somehow my involvement changed from doing what as fun into having a job, and after some years it became a career. I have often felt a tiny mental surprise when I realize that I actually had a career because I was enjoying it all so much!
I was part of the discussions in planning the “new” library that was to be built where we are now. It was so exciting! I remember the day we made arrangements to have a human chain from the old library (where the Steinbach Arts Council is now) right across Main street to our current address. Once everyone was lined up and the traffic was stopped at the Main and Reimer intersection for a few minutes, we passed several books, hand to hand, all the way to the new building. Packing all the books was a huge process and unpacking them was an even bigger process!
There was so much excitement when we opened the doors on June 21, 1997. For the first weeks and months many people dropped in to walk around and view the new digs. We settled in and flourished with all the much needed space. Our circulation statistics increased substantially and we were able to start providing a couple of good programs. We breathed huge sighs of relief and thought – I’m glad we don’t need to do that again! Famous last words!
We outgrew our space fairly quickly and suddenly we were planning a major expansion. Another very exciting time. We spent hours planning how to make the best use of the space that would be provided. From 1997 to 2012 technology had advanced in leaps and bounds. Much more thought needed to be given to all the systems that needed to be upgraded and provide space for all the necessary equipment and wiring. And one more time we packed up all our books, put them in storage and waited for the new space to be ready. And then, one more time, we had to unpack thousands and thousands of books and put them all in their new places. But the result has been worth every effort.
My last chapter with Jake Epp Library began July 2015 when I took on the role of Library Director and will end January 31st 2020. When I look back, I see the tops of many important peaks or milestones and wonder at how far we have come and at how much has changed in 29 years. I remember the faces of staff members over the years. I remember smiles of our patrons who have appreciated what we have done and smiles of children when they have found a good book to read. My greatest memories are of people.
My life has been enriched by every staff member who has worked for the library during my time. They have taught me so much and we have shared much of our lives together. This library journey has been an incredibly amazing adventure. I have been fortunate beyond expectations.
I hope you love your library. I hope you use your library. We are here for you! The library is one of best things the City does for its citizens. The library is your free resource for fun, information, family literacy and a safe place that is warm in winter and cool in summer. It welcomes everyone whether you are a member or not. As a member you can check out books, magazines, audio books and more. As a non-member you are still welcome to use our computers, look up information, or sit and read the newspaper, magazine, or book and bring your children and read storybooks with them. Our staff is always ready to help, to answer questions to the best of their ability or help you find information sources.
There will be another wonderful director who will bring new thoughts and ideas. Great service and lots of smiles will still be ready for you when enter the door. Thank you to the City of Steinbach and to the Jake Epp Library Board (and all the great board members that I have worked with) for giving me this amazing opportunity.