WILMINGTON — If you’re a regular patron of the Wilmington Public Library, it’s safe to say you know the faces of library staffers Sherri Clark and Brenda Drake, both of whom just retired after 34 years and 20 years respectively.
“I liked the people. I liked the patrons that came in, the questions — there was all kinds of variety, and you just never knew what was going to be asked or what they needed. You just never do. So it was fun,” said Clark as she cleared out her work station Wednesday.
Similarly, Drake said she liked the interaction with the patrons.
“A lot of them I’ve known since their kids were little, and now their kids have kids. I’ve known them through all kinds of stuff going on. They’re like family, really,” said Drake.
Clark started working at the library when she was 20 and going to college studying accounting.
There is a teaching background in her family, and she notes working in a library has a lot in common with teaching. For instance, she would help students find resources for a paper or other assignments.
“Now they can get what they need at home on the internet, so we don’t answer as many reference questions,” said Clark.
Her prediction for future library operations is lots of children’s programming and lots of fiction books.
“So libraries will be good for programming for young adults and the children. And then learning how to read — we have all the books, the picture books, those easy-to-read books, we have lots of those,” she said after being asked about all the changes at libraries brought about by the digital Information Revolution.
Formerly, people who worked on their own cars sometimes would come to the library and make use of books on auto mechanics and get the instructions. Now they watch how somebody makes the fix in a YouTube video.
The local library is also where Clark’s future husband Rodney first asked her out.
Drake retired a few days before Clark and said she’s been having fun, playing with mulch outdoors.
Not having a work schedule, Drake said she’s already missed someone’s birthday because she forgot what day it was and didn’t realize it was Saturday.
There were the parents who would bring their children in every week like clockwork for the library’s story-time programming. When they didn’t show up for a while, Drake said she would worry about them and wonder what was going on.
She loves to read and finds it hard to pull herself away from a good book in order to do something else, “clean house usually.”
Whenever new books arrived at the library, it was like Christmas, she said.
At 73, though, she said it’s time to retire.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.