Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

The next time I walk into any of the branches of the Mercer County Library System, I will be a patron – on the other side of the desk. Of course, I look forward to being a patron at any of the MCLS branches: to be greeted by the welcoming staff at the circulation desk, who are happy to checkout my library items; to have access to the resources I may need, including the many books and DVDs I can take home; and to be able to ask just about any question and have staff at the reference desk find the right answer. But, I am also sad and nostalgic as I say my goodbyes to my staff and to all my colleagues and friends.

I have always believed that work was the panacea to all ills and saying goodbye to it is not easy, especially leaving a job I love. For a book lover, the library was the perfect place to be. In fact, one of the perks of the job was getting to see all of the new books and putting as many as I could on hold for myself. Working in the library suited me perfectly. It offered me ample opportunities to help people and to do something meaningful for the community. At the end of the day, though tired, I always left work with a tremendous sense of satisfaction. My job was fulfilling emotionally, as well as socially, and it gave me a sense of belonging. I found a readymade community – people I saw almost every day and got to know so well over the years.

Work provided structure. Time could be managed. Competent staff did everything I could ask for and more. I could buy wonderful books without making a dent in my own bank balance. No matter what troubles loomed at home, (leaky faucets, termites in the garage, cracking plaster), I knew I could leave it all behind when I went to work.

Working in the library was something that also filled me with a wonderful sense of purpose. I enjoyed the challenge of solving problems and learning new skills. My work offered me the opportunity to be creative, to grow, and to learn. I was fortunate to feel that my work was appreciated by my colleagues, as well as my supervisors. It was gratifying to know that my opinions mattered, to believe that what I did was important, and to have a tremendous support system watching my back whenever I embarked on a new project. Whether it was changing the layout of the library, getting new furniture or moving an entire collection to a new place in the branch, I had the enthusiastic support of my colleagues.

I enjoyed getting ready - dressing up - for the workday. Now, I am afraid I will be one of those terribly overdressed ladies at the grocery store! Where else will I wear my multitude of scarves, shoes and necklaces?  All of which were purchased with the excuse that I needed them for work!

I know I will miss my coworkers, my bosses, and being a staff member of MCLS.  Some of the Friends of the West Windsor Library, who have grown to become true friends, have advised me not to make any hasty decisions after I retire; to spend some time getting used to this unsettled feeling and not to make any rash decisions. Even to spend some time mourning the conclusion of my career. Indeed, I will heed their advice. I know I will have to spend some time adjusting to this transition, to this new way of being. Time flies when you are having fun and in a blink of an eye… it is time to retire.

Lastly, I would like to share my reading list - my last readers’ advisory, if you will. For all those who love libraries, have ever worked in one or considered a career in libraries, I am sure you will find these books enlightening as well as enjoyable to read.

  1. Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: a Librarian's Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in her Life by Annie Spence
  2. The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  3. Packing my Library: an Elegy and Ten Digressions by Alberto Manguel
  4. The Library: a Catalogue of Wonders by Stuart Kells
  5. Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith
  6. I Work at a Public Library: a Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks by Gina Sheridan
  7. This is What a Librarian Looks Like: a Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information by Kyle Cassidy
  8. Ex Libris: Stories of Librarians, Libraries & Lore by Paula Guran
  9. The Public Library: a Photographic Essay by Robert Dawson
  10. The New York Public Library: the Architecture and Decoration of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building by Henry Hope Reed

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night
I hate to go and leave this pretty sight
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu
Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu
From the musical The Sound of Music

- Rina B., formerly the manager at the West Windsor Branch