After thirty-two years at APL, this is my final day. It’s been a great ride -- and a long strange trip. I’m fortunate to be leaving a place and a job I love. So after years of writing this blog, this is my final post as APL Director.
My thanks and appreciation to many more people than space permits naming: colleagues, board members, volunteers, and citizens have added great joy and satisfaction to my years here. This is a community which cares about the difference a public library can make: I see it in co-workers, supporters, people coming up to me on the street, and in the faces of children leaving here carrying books. I feel fortunate, humbled, and privileged to have been a part of this place and this effort. Colleagues here are doing work they believe in and living their values. This makes the place exciting and fun, though there are more than a few workaholics. The patient support of my family, especially my wife, Marsha, has been daily essential to my ability to do the job.
Many people have been saying kind things to me, but I’m very aware that I’m the most public face of a big team effort. While I’ve had a fair amount to say about what the library does, there’s a big staff that contributes ideas and delivers services with commitment and professionalism. Mostly I’ve tried to listen to the community’s expressions of what they want and need the library to be, and to bring professional resources to meet those needs.
The will and the expectations of the community makes the library what it is, as expressed through people: the library staff, Boards and volunteers – as well as City staff, elected officials, library users and others who take the time to tell us what they need and what they appreciate. Librarians may run the library, but it is the community that dictates what we will be and do. Our public votes not only in elections or through elected representatives, but with their feet, their donations, their time and their care.
Most of the staff never gets to work with our boards. Year in and year out, our trustees and friends have worked diligently to express that community will. It’s been a rewarding challenge to deliberate with them how steward resources and work to meet library needs.
It’s a joy to find opportunities for community collaborations and to be part of a professional community including local libraries and media centers, our exemplary public library system, our networks and professional associations that provide valuable education, support and resources. Cooperation among libraries to serve the public should be an example to other government services.
Finally, many people have asked me what I’m going to do in retirement. I have no big firm plans, but I’m staying in Appleton and staying involved in lots of ways, though stepping away from job-related connections. I have some ongoing community activities, a few small projects, and plan to spend time with family, read, travel, and let some grass grow before deciding on too many new commitments.
I’ll remain a strong supporter of the library. I believe that the community will continue to need, to want and to get much from APL, facilitated by a terrific staff, Friends and Library Board, led by an excellent new director who will do great things here.
But at the last, it’s time for a change, for me as for APL. It’s been an honor. Thank you and goodbye.