Goodbye, Farewell…but Not Gone

I would like to dedicate this blog, if there is such a thing, to long-time library employee Greg Goetz, who recently passed away after working here for 41 years! The staff here have no doubts that he is up there somewhere telling jokes and listening to the Stones. He was a kind soul, and will be missed.

After almost 7 years working in reference, it is time for me to retire. Yikes! I turn 70 in June.

For the public reading this, please know that the staff here at this library is fantastic. Our only goal is to help people find things, make things, read things, watch things, or listen to things. The staff has no sales goals to meet, profit margins to make, or number of people to help. You stop in, call, email, or chat, and if we are free to help, we help. We may not always give you the answer or assistance you need, but we listen and try our best.

All was good at the library, until 2020. COVID happened, and not only for the library — the world had to adjust as well. It seemed like the adjustments at the library changed weekly, often following health department guidelines. Initially, we were working from home, answering questions (mainly about e-books) and doing what we could. Shortly after that, a limited number people could use a drive-thru option to pick up materials. Then, a small number of people were allowed in the library by reservation. Eventually, more people were allowed per hour. Public computers were by reservation only, then cleaned and sanitized by the staff after each use. Materials being checked in had to be sanitized. And the mask mandates… To mask, or not to mask? But the staff here adjusted, and we kept on rolling as much as we were allowed.

Next step for the staff? Moving! Packing up here, then relocating for 18 months to a temporary location. We had a new location, policies still changing due to COVID, and limited program and meeting space. The staff also had a new director (who turns out to be a terrific leader!) to get to know, and to guide us.

Image of the brightly lit and spacious central space in the newly renovated library, with the familiar statue of a child reading to animals in the foreground.

Back to our (renewed) old digs!

After that? Moving again, back home to our new downtown library. Once again, we had new spaces, offices, meeting rooms, programs, and (yes) more new policies. Once we did open again, many things changed often — sometimes daily. One of the most complained about issues at our new location is the lack of parking. We hear you, but please call your city council representative. No one at the library has any control over parking in the city.

This past winter, due to the lack of a consistent place for those in need, the library became the daytime homeless shelter for many individuals around Eau Claire, which brought many challenges. Despite many issues, the staff here remained calm and understanding, yet firm in the belief that all need to follow the rules of the library.

So, I repeat: from the management team on down, this library staff is simply wonderful. Kind, attentive, patient, knowledgeable, obviously adaptable, and just plain fun. Do take a look at the attached pictures, and see just how much the library has changed through the years.

Keep on making, reading, watching, and listening!

Black & white photograph of library staff at the circulation desk of the Carnegie Library. The dress of those pictured suggests the 1930s.

Library staff of old.

Black and white photograph of the Carnegie Library, with several early model cars parked in front.

The former Carnegie Library, which now houses City Hall.


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