Yep it is true!
I am retiring as the Director of the David & Joyce Milne Public Library on January 5th, 2024. I have realized that my labor of love has come to an end, after 25 years of public service to the Town of Williamstown and everyone who enjoys this library.
I arrived about 2 years after the library moved from the Botsford House to this building which was Pine Cobble School and given to the Town from the Milnes. I knew what I was walking into - a card catalog, leaking roofs, two personal computers, only 4 desks and a very small staff and budget. At my first meeting I asked the Friends for $20,000 and the promise of a year to get the collection automated and new patron cards, all to be a part of CWMARS. With the help from the Friends and the Town we made it happen – and it has been all uphill from that point.
It has been a director’s dream to be able to grow a library that suffered from a poor renovation to the amazing spaces we share with our community and develop a budget that now addresses library workers wages, incredible programming, and a renowned collection.
My days in libraries have been all about taking chances, pushing the envelope, learning to ask and risking failure. "The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones." - Confucius.
Libraries are at a critical moment, when free and open access to credible information, the First Amendment right to free expression, and the principles of intellectual freedom are all being challenged. They certainly did not teach us in library school how to pivot and re-invent library services during a pandemic, deal with a First Amendment audit and see libraries defunded because they purchase materials that offend opinionated groups. Libraries will always remain the bastions of our democratic society. There have always been battles throughout my entire career and freedoms are what we all fight for every day.
I cannot leave without giving thanks to David & Joyce Milne for their friendship and gifts to the library and staff. To the many Trustee Boards that I have worked with for years. The Friends have made such a huge difference for this library with their ongoing financial support and amazing dedication to their roles and responsibilities. To the several Town administrators and many employees for their communication and cooperation to always be there when I needed them. To the wonderful residents of Williamstown for their undying support for this library as a community center for lifelong learning. Oh, I saved the best for last...and that is the staff, so many have come and gone over the years, but their commitment, resilience, personable service and of course their humor is what I will miss the most. Oh... the laughs we shared!!!
Everyone asks what my plans are, and I have one answer – none! I have many interests and avenues to explore. I have a huge family, a wonderful home in Old Bennington and a big black cat that I adore. So, it is time to take a year and travel, read the books I will now have time for and get to know where I live and not just eat and sleep there. Time for me!
What I need is a new chapter to this book that I hold in wrinkled hands. To borrow a line from one of my favorite poets, Miley Cyrus: “I know I used to be crazy/I know I used to be fun/I know I used to be wild/I know I used to be young.” I just want to playout this one life that has been tough but I allowed myself to always feel like I have been dancing in the rain. I will never put Williamstown in my rear-view mirror and the people I have met here will forever be a piece of my heart.