Reading has always been a big part of Cora Stanley’s life – fitting since residents of Bishop’s Falls have been associating her with the public library in the community for almost three decades.
Now, Stanley said she is trying to get used to just visiting the library.
“I have to tell my head when I come in here, ‘you’re not working. You’re just an ordinary patron now,’” Stanley told the Advertiser while sitting at the library Thursday afternoon – two days after she retired. “(This) is different.”
Stanley said she always enjoyed reading, even though the library in Bishop’s Falls didn’t officially open until the late 1960s when it was part of a town centennial project.
“The library didn’t really exist here until about 1967, so as a kid, we never really had a library,” Stanley said.
Born and raised in Bishop’s Falls, in July of 1983, Stanley began working part-time – starting out with 10 hours a week - as a library clerk – which are now known as library assistants.
She was still working there when the librarian retired in 1993, she said.
“They put a freeze on that position, so I did the position but not officially,” Stanley said. “Then in 1995, the position was posted, so I applied, and got it.”
Stanley said she taught school for a couple years way back when, and was always involved with different children activities, like teaching Sunday school at her church.
“I guess that was a big part of why I liked the library, as well because this was a real children’s library at one time,” Stanley said. “Children are a big part of libraries.
How could you have a library without children?
“First when I came here, on a Friday afternoon we did story hour, and I bet you sometimes there were about 60-65 children sat in a circle on this floor. I have seen a lot of changes since then.”
There is still a pre-school program for four year olds, but the enrollments has gone down to six to 10 children, she said.
Stanley said she believes there are a number of reasons why this has happened, including family size decreasing, society changes, and so many other activities for children to partake in.
“Kids are involved in so many things, and most parent’s work, so it’s hard,” Stanley said. “Everything is different in that respect. You mom doesn’t say now ‘just go to the library, I’ll pick you up.’ That doesn’t happen anymore.”
Stanley said the biggest change she saw in her years at the library was when they became automated – older children began visiting for emails and Internet services.
“What once was kids coming in, reading books, and sitting down studying, quietly, all of a sudden it was opened up to a whole new group of kids,” Stanley said. “I was just learning this new technology myself and trying to teach these kids all this stuff.
That was a challenge for us here.”
But she said she was interested in the new technology, and happily accepted, and overcame the challenge.
“Two years ago, we started the Horizon program…so it’s all on the computer now,” Stanley said.
Then people could say goodbye to their little yellow library cards, and hello to the plastic ones.
“It was all good things because you have to go with the world,” Stanley said. “You can’t go back in time, you keep going with the times.”
Stanley said she has so many favorite memories, but did share a story about one particular little boy, who was four years old and attended preschool story time.
One day, he visited the library with his father. The little boy went to the children’s side of the library, and the father went to the adult section.
When he was finished he went over and asked his father if he was ready to go.
“His father had gotten some books and said ‘I’m going to have to check them in on your card because I don’t have a card,’” Stanley reminisced. “And the little boy said ‘well Dad, you get your own card.’ Another registration.”
Stanley said now she meets some of the people who were just children when they visited now coming with toddlers of their own, taking part in the program.
“Now you meet them at the store, and the parent is saying ‘Mrs. Stanley,’ and the child is saying ‘Mrs. Stanley,’ because you’ve had the parent and you’ve had the child,” she said. “It’s really neat.
“A few kids have said to me, ‘miss, where do you sleep?’ And I’ll say, ‘oh, at home.’ ‘But miss, is your bed here?’ Because I suppose every time they came, I was here. I was like a fixture.”
Until last week.
Stanley said she made up her own mind last year that she was ready to retire this year.
“I’ll be 65, and now I would like to do something,” she said. “I love to walk, and I love to cook. I always used to say ‘I don’t know why I go to work, because I love being home.’ I love to cook, bake, clean; I’m a homemaker, but yet, I really enjoyed work.”
She said she will still be part of the library, and may continue to substitute, but she is looking forward to just doing her own thing.
“I know I’m going to enjoy it because that’s the way I am,” Stanley said. “I’m going to take every day and say ‘this is a new day, I’m enjoying it while I have health.’”
On Sept. 25, the day she turned 65, the Bishop’s Falls Library Board held an open house marking her retirement.
Stanley said she wanted an open house so the many people she has met over the years could meet and greet together.
“I have met people I would have never met if I didn’t work at a library, so many different people from all walks of life,” she said.
And because it was her birthday, her daughter and husband surprised her by decorating for the occasion.
“It was a beautiful evening,” Stanley said, adding it was a wonderful way to mark her retirement from a job she enjoyed.
“I loved it the first day I even came here to work, and I still do,” Stanley said. “It was a memorable time. I really enjoyed working at the library and I’ll always be a part of it. ”