Drewello retiring after 33 years of running a libraryDuring Daphne Drewello’s 33-year tenure as a library director, she has selected records, cassette tapes, DVDs and CDs and downloadable books for purchase.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
During Daphne Drewello’s 33-year tenure as a library director, she has selected records, cassette tapes, DVDs and CDs and downloadable books for purchase.
Though the formats keep changing, Drewello said, people still love — and still use — the library.
“People keep telling me libraries are dying, and I see we keep getting busier and busier,” Drewello said of the technological changes facing libraries.
Drewello will retire from her position on June 30 — a job she has held since she was fresh out of library school in 1979 and “too dumb to know” she wasn’t qualified.
She never intended to spend her entire career in Jamestown — it just turned out that way.
“I got here and I fell in love with the library, and I fell in love with the staff, and I fell in love with the people,” Drewello said. “And here I am.”
She praised her staff as “the best staff in the world,” and said they had always looked out for her.
As part of her position as director of the James River Valley Library System, Drewello supervises 16 part- and full-time employees, between Alfred Dickey Library and the Stutsman County Library.
Initially, she held the title of director of the Alfred Dickey Library, but following a public vote in 2008, the two systems began to merge in 2009.
That process is still going on today with the continued weeding of materials and automating of the Stutsman County Library. The two libraries had different checkout periods for materials and different ways of counting statistics, too.
The previous library director at Alfred Dickey, Amy Waite, taught her what needed to be done to manage a library, from staff management and financial work to dealing with a library built in 1917.
“The most challenging thing is to keep up with the technological challenges, and give the people what they deserve,” while staying within the bounds of the budget and available space, Drewello said. “People’s expectations are great.”
The changes in technology may be difficult to keep up with, but they have also benefited the library. Drewello remembers purchasing a set of reference books for $1,500 only to have to throw them away when they became outdated.
Now library patrons can access the same reference information from home or the library and at a much lower price.
Technology hasn’t decreased library usage, but it has changed what people expect from libraries. Now they want individual, personalized help from librarians in finding accurate, good information online. They expect information to be available digitally, and they expect librarians to be able to help them with software, Drewello said.
“People are building new libraries all over the place, and it’s not because they’re stupid,” Drewello said.
She believes libraries will still be very viable, and very necessary, in a more tech-geared society.
“I’m excited to see what’s going to happen, how things are going to change,” she added.
Lately, young families with children are big library users — similar to the days of the 1950s when Drewello was growing up.
“Children’s programs were booming when I started, and it’s booming-er now,” Drewello said with a smile.
People expect more programming from libraries and more personal attention, she said — helping fill out forms or find something needed right away.
“The most important thing is that you’re responsive to your community,” Drewello said. “You don’t just have something because the guy next town over has it.”
She praised the community for being so supportive of the library, to the extent of allowing it to purchase materials people don’t necessarily agree with and allowing people to make up their own minds about controversial topics.
“The important thing is to treat everyone with respect and listen, and try, as much as possible, not to let your own prejudices influence what you think,” Drewello said.
She plans to do some traveling, take the summer off and eventually, take a part-time job, take some classes and lend an extra pair of hands as a volunteer around the community.
“She gave 110 percent all these years, and she was very knowledgeable in the works of the library,” said Dale Marks, a member of the JRVLS Library Board. “And it’s always sad when somebody retires that knows as much as she does, and her expertise will be missed.”
An open house honoring Drewello and celebrating her tenure at the library will be from 2 to 4 p.m. June 23 at the Alfred Dickey Library.
“We have been very fortunate to have had her for that long, and her dedication, and her loyalty, and I’ve enjoyed working with her,” said Barb Laraway, library board member. “She’s been remarkable. She’s just a great young lady.”
The new JRVLS director, Joseph Rector, will start next week, Drewello said.
“I am looking forward to seeing what a new person, a younger person, with new training, new experiences, will do,” she said. “It’ll be good.”
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org