Winters-Bellbrook Community Library Head Librarian Retires

It’s hard to say goodbye to a job that you love! I’ve worked for Greene County Public Library for over 30 years, and am now looking at retirement.

I started working as a sub for the library in 1986. I subbed both in the Reference and Circulation departments for Xenia and Fairborn. After a couple of years, I was lucky enough to be hired full time as a “reference assistant” at the Beavercreek library. By then I was in love with the library and I made up my mind to complete a master’s degree in library science from Kent State University. No online classes back then! I had to drive to Columbus once a week to attend classes at Kent’s extension campus there. Working full time, raising a family, and attending grad school was an intense time for me, but it paid off when I was promoted to Reference Librarian in 1993 and went to work at the Xenia library.

Being a reference librarian in the early 1990s was a fun and challenging experience. We answered questions—without the internet! Hard to imagine now, but we searched through books, called other libraries to have them search through books, searched magazines on microfilm, called government offices, and called businesses, all in an attempt to find answers to all kinds of questions. As the internet became more available to us, librarians were using Telnet, Gopher, Veronica, and Archie (look them up 🙂 ) to access information. Later as the World Wide Web and internet browsers made it much easier for anyone to go online, I taught classes to the public on internet use. One memorable class had 50 people attending to find out what all the fuss was about.

In my early days, I used to help file catalog cards in the big wooden card catalog. Curses on anyone who ever dropped one of those drawers, with the cards flying everywhere! Later we converted the cards to an electronic catalog. People would ask if I missed the old card catalog. I always said no!

The library continued to adapt to the new technologies evolving around us. And so did all the librarians’ need to grow and learn. We have always tried to keep up with whatever our patrons needed from us. From CD-ROMS to ereaders and tablets, we have tried to stay tech savvy.

I am proud of the help I have been able to offer to our patrons through the library—job seekers, students of all ages, home remodelers, small business starters, inquisitive children, readers looking for a good book, and on and on. It is rewarding when someone tells you that you helped them in a way that made their life better. Every day something a little different. Every day I learned something new.

In 2004, I took the position of Head Librarian at Winters-Bellbrook Community Library. I have loved working in Bellbrook. The people of Bellbrook are very friendly and engaged in their community. The library here often feels like the heart of the town.

The staff at Winters is top notch, offering quality reference service, programming for all ages, and customer service with a smile. I’ve been lucky to work with many wonderful people over the years. Coworkers who became friends. The current staff—Joanne (or “Miss Joanne” as she is known to all the schoolkids in town), Amanda, Donna, Louise, Sarah, Liz, and Brenna—make up an excellent team and I’m lucky to have worked with them. Karl Colón, Director, and Elizabeth Cusack, Deputy Director, are professional and compassionate leaders who do everything they can to carry out the mission of the library, and support the staff that keep the libraries running.

My replacement has been chosen: Sue Jeffery will step into the role. She has worked for the past five years as Head Librarian at Cedarville Community Library, so she knows all about small town libraries. I know the library will be in good hands!

How do you say goodbye to a career you love and coworkers and patrons you will miss? For me it will be with tears and smiles for happy memories. And I have the satisfaction of knowing the library will go on without me. Winters Library has been in Bellbrook since 1906; staff will come and go but I know the library will continue to be a vital part of the community for years to come.

JoEllen Fannin, Head Librarian


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