Morrison’s Library Director Retires After 33 Years of Community Service
Courtesy of Katie Rider
Please join us in celebrating librarian Connie Boonstra’s extraordinary 33 years of service at Morrison’s Odell Public Library. An open house will be held Thursday, May 23rd from 2:30-5:30 p.m. at the library, located at 307 South Madison Street. All are welcome to stop by, enjoy a cupcake and beverage, and thank Connie for so many wonderful years of service at she heads into retirement. Well-wishers may also leave comments on the library’s Facebook page.
Originally from the Sterling/Rock Falls area, Connie settled in Morrison in 1973 and began a family with husband Jim Boonstra. One day, Connie’s neighbor and then-librarian Marcia Renkes, asked her if she’d be interested in working at the library on Saturdays. For the next seven years, Connie did just that: weekdays with the family, Saturdays at the library. Eventually Connie took on more hours until 19 years ago when Odell found itself short a head librarian. The Board of Directors asked Connie to hold the position until a replacement could be found and she’s been at the helm ever since.
A lot has changed over the last 33 years at Odell. Seventeen years ago, the “new” library on South Madison was constructed as the old Lincolnway space was outgrown. The current facility boasts much improved parking, handicap access, meeting rooms, work areas, and reader-friendly lighting.
Connie recalls the big move as messy, but necessary. Aside from the physical changes, the library has seen a dramatic shift in the role of technology in regards to reading, gathering information, and communicating. Connie acknowledges that technology has really changed the way libraries operate and she has worked hard to meet these demands.
Connie regularly assists patrons at Odell’s computer stations and has been a tremendous resource for patrons using their iPads and Kindles to access e-books and audio. “Now people have books at their fingertips all of the time. Communication is right in their hands.”
Connie’s favorite part of being a librarian is having a child ask her for help finding a book. “When you help a kid find that book, they look at you like you’re a hero!” Connie said.
Many of Connie’s colleagues suspect children look at her that way because she really is a hero, or at the very least a super-librarian. Odell’s librarian is responsible for ordering new materials, weeding out the old ones, managing interlibrary loans, implementing and maintaining technology, hiring and supervising the staff, attending all Board and Friends meetings, scheduling building repairs, working on summer reading programs, book sales, and various other fundraising endeavors, and serving as a general reference attendant. All of these duties will be passed into the very-capable hands of long-time library staff member, Patricia Fuller on June 1, 2013.
But beyond the mighty laundry list of librarian duties, the reasons we’ll miss Connie most are these: Connie knows this community, loves this community, and serves this community with her whole heart. Odell staff member Elisa Rideout says of Connie, “She taught me by example that the relationship with the patron is more important than any rule or regulation.”
Connie knows your children and grandchildren, your parents and grandparents. She knows what authors they read and how long they’re logged onto the computer, but she also knows who’s struggling in school, having problems at home, working towards a degree, or having health issues. She knows all this and more because over the past 33 years, she’s helped foster a safe and caring environment at Odell centered on the patron.
Connie’s retirement plans include fixing up a home in Lyndon, assisting the Lyndon Historical Society with their activities, and spending time with her five grandchildren. She doesn’t know it yet, but we’re hoping she’ll be spending some time back at Odell, too! Please join us in wishing this super-librarian a very fulfilling retirement. She’s earned it!