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You’re invited to celebrate Dianne Cranshaw’s retirement! – January 26

dianne-head-shot-300x281Dianne Cranshaw’s name is, for so many, almost synonymous with the Wellington branch of public library. The Assistant CEO and head of the Wellington branch has dedicated over thirty years of service to the library and its patrons, and having done so, has decided to retire.
“Few people have given as generously and as devotedly to their work as has Dianne, and while we are sorry to see her leave, we are also pleased for her that she can enjoy a well deserved retirement,” says library CEO Barbara Sweet.
“Dianne has been a constant in first the Wellington branch and for the last thirteen years in the amalgamated library.  Her quick mind and encyclopaedic knowledge has always left me in awe.  I personally have relied very heavily on her.”
All library staff have come to rely on Dianne and are thankful that, for now, she has agreed to continue to work on Thursdays though officially retired.

A retirement reception is being held in Dianne’s honour on Sunday, January 26 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Wellington United Church and all are welcome to help celebrate her years of service.

We asked Dianne to share a glimpse of her full and important career, one that has contributed so positively to the fabric of both the Wellington community and the County as a whole, for this week’s column.

Dianne, how did you come to work at the library?
As much as I loved being a “stay at home” Mom, I soon realized that I still required a little something to keep me busy and an occasion to get out and do something on my own.  It so happened that I lived right next door to Bessie Webster who was the librarian at the Wellington Library – a position she held for 43 years!  As I was a school librarian, our topic of conversation usually led us in the direction of libraries and I told her that I was afraid of losing my expertise at typing catalogue cards – don’t laugh – it is a very exact science! – and she admitted that she was very far behind in both the typing and filing of catalogue cards at the Wellington library. S it came to pass that she would bring me the “shelf list card” and I would type the various additional cards – Author, Title, Subject heading – and take them to the library and file them.  This was the perfect answer.  I could type while Andrew was napping and could file them on either Tuesday or Saturday evening when the library was open and Henry was home.  This was in 1980.  Shortly she asked if I could occasionally work the desk as her sister was ill and Bessie thought she was needed at home. By late 1982 Bessie became ill and I worked more often – at this time the library was only open 12 hours per week. In 1983 I became the acting Librarian and when Bessie died in 1984 the Board asked if I would take over the reins at the library – it was an easy decision for me – I loved every minute I was there – which could not be said of the years I spent teaching!

What is the major change that you have seen since you began working at the library?
There is no doubt that computers have made the biggest change in the way we do business. Most times it is an improvement, but occasionally not so much. With an automated system you need only type the one card and it automatically fills in all the others and files it for you in the correct spot. But because you can just turn off the computer at the end of day and it completes all you stats for you it is not as easy for you to recognize that patron so and so forgot to come in and renew her books.  In the old days when every book card had to be counted and filed and you manually put the book cards into an overdue file it was easy to spot who needed their books renewed and you just did it for them automatically if it was someone who was ill or away and you reminded the others the next time they were in- it was easier to give more personal service. But, of course, Wellington was smaller and you knew everyone’s name and recognized most of the patron numbers.

What would you say are the things you are most proud of in your career?
There are three areas of which I am most proud. The first is purely egotistical. Although I was no “Bessie”, it soon became apparent to many that with some experience I would suffice and they were kind enough to tell me that I was doing okay.
The second is the addition at the Wellington branch and all that that has done for the library. Through the generous bequest of Norah Cunningham, followed by a bequest from Christine Misener and the donations of many service clubs and individuals, the dream of an elevator, added space and a community meeting room became a reality.  Norah Cunningham, a retired Public Health Nurse, was an avid reader, but in her later years was unable to climb the steps into the library.  She bought many books from Greenley’s bookstore and when she was finished with them she donated them to the library. She had impeccable taste!  She often made donations of juvenile material as well that she had heard reviewed on the CBC.  There was no one more surprised than I to find that she had left the bulk of her estate to the library.  I have often regretted that we did not officially name the meeting room the Norah Cunningham room.
The third area is that of interlibrary loan and, of course, that is due to the advent of computers and the Internet. It seemed most wonderful to me that one of our patrons could want something, which we did not own, and that we could ask another library if we could borrow it on behalf of our patron and that they would usually do so, but the other amazing fact was that those libraries also wanted to borrow from us! Imagine the thrill of being asked to lend something to the Toronto Reference Library and, recently, as far as Cape Breton Island and British Columbia.  It may not seem like much to some, but I always took it as a sign that we were doing something right and that even the little guy had a lot to offer.

What will you miss the most about working at the library?
But, of course, the thing I will miss most is the patrons. I have met so many wonderfully, interesting people.  We have talked about books, the weather, the community, but we have also grown together.  Many of them have become like friends and I count them as friends and I will miss them terribly.

What will you miss the least?
What I will miss the least is the politics.

What message would you like to share about the library?The message that I would like to leave is that we have an excellent library system in Prince Edward County. We are recognized by our peers as having an active, vibrant, forward-looking library facility. As a patron, you should be proud of what we have, but do not become complacent. Demand excellence in service, in selection of material – both print  and on-line – and in our facilities. And lastly, consider joining the Friends of the Library of whichever branch you frequent. Your voice deserves to be heard.

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