People make the library come to life; Mary Davis retires from Hudson Library
For the last 15 years, children who came to the Hudson Area Public Library would most likely interact with children's librarian Mary Davis through one of her programs, her puppet shows or reading with her during storytimes.
"I really enjoy the people here. I enjoy what I do, like telling stories and doing programs for kids," Davis said. "I love introducing the kids to new books, new characters and new authors."
However, someone new will be running the children's programming come September, as Davis will retire from the library at the end of the August.
"When I turned 66, which is retirement age for myself and my husband I started to think about retiring. The library and libraries in general are going through a lot of changes and I figured this might be the best time to step out," Davis said.
"I'm really looking forward to getting to work more with my puppets. I really like what I do, so I plan on doing some programs for kids with the puppets."
Davis has worked at libraries on and off for most of her life, with around 45 years of experience. She got her start at the Ottumwa Public Library in Ottumwa, Iowa, when she was 16 and worked at eight different libraries throughout her career as a librarian.
"The branch library for Ottumwa Public Library was at the corner of my block. The girl across the street worked there and told me that I should go down and apply for a job there. I applied at age 15 and they said no, but I applied again when I turned 16 and they hired me two weeks later. So I worked at the corner of my block for two or three years," Davis said. "I kept getting jobs at libraries because there is no place better to work than at a library. It is a nice atmosphere. People are generally here for a purpose or they just want a quiet place or a place to sit and read."
In addition to working at libraries in Iowa and Wisconsin, Davis has also worked at libraries in Oklahoma, Wyoming, North Dakota and Minnesota.
"I will miss the people the most. I'll miss the patrons and the staff. I'm a people person, so I like being around people and getting to know people. I like their stories and what they have to tell," Davis said. "Usually people aren't always in a big hurry when they are at the library, so there is usually time for a story or two or just to talk and learn about someone else."
During her career, Davis has worked with several young volunteers (usually third to fifth graders) to help her read to children, perform her puppet shows and do crafts with kids.
"I enjoy getting kids started at the library. A few of those kids that have been my volunteers have gone on to be aids at the library. Two of the young volunteers I worked with have gone on to become librarians," Davis said.
Memorable moments during her library career included having to adlib a 45-minute program while dressed up as Pippi Longstocking because she forgot her glasses and couldn't read her notes; and having a snake, which Davis is not fond of, placed on the nose of a bookworm costume she was wearing during a live animal program.
The most exciting thing for Davis during her tenure at the Hudson library was the move from the old library to the current location downtown.
"It was interesting to see how they moved all the books and all the other stuff from the old building to this one," Davis said. "We also had a flood upstairs once, which was also an exciting day here."
The community is invited to attend a retirement open house for Davis on Tuesday, Aug. 28 from 3-7 p.m. in the library lobby.