Director Katherine Hillier has helped to build the Pease Public Library into what it is today, but is looking to pass on her responsibilities when she retires this spring. (Ashley Finethy) (click for larger version)
February 15, 2012PLYMOUTH — The Pease Public Library has seen many changes and additions under the care of Library Director Katherine Hillier.
The library is about to face another, more difficult change, as Hillier plans to retire sometime this spring.
"The date isn't firm yet," said Hillier. "It will depend a bit on how the search goes, but it will be sometime late this spring, probably sometime in late May. The date will come up as we go along."
With retirement right around the corner, Hillier isn't sure how she feels about it quite yet.
"I have very mixed feelings," Hillier said. "I have been here 18 years; we have had a great run, and have been able to do the kinds of things that we wanted to do, so now, it will be good for somebody else to come in. Fresh ideas are always good, and change is good — most of the time, anyways."
The library has been a large piece of Hillier's life for the past 18 years, so retirement, she says, will be a big adjustment.
"When you are really involved in a career over a number of years, there are just so many things that you have to drop by the wayside," Hillier pointed out. "I think there will be things that I used to enjoy doing that I will be able to do more, or some of the things I really like to do I will have time for."
Hillier has been putting some thought into her retired life, thinking about how she will be able to spend some of her free time.
"I think first and foremost, our family is quite scattered around this country — children and grandchildren — and it will be a pleasure to spend more time with family," Hillier said. "Then, of course, there are all of those books waiting to be read, and I will just be beginning the height of gardening season, and I love my garden. I think the days will fill up very nicely, probably."
There is a lot for Hillier to look forward to in retirement, but there are some things that Hillier said will miss about the library as she reflects on her time here.
"I will miss the people — the staff, the patrons, the programs," Hillier said. "We do a lot of programming, and it's a very rewarding experience to be able to offer programs to people. Whether they are workshops that teach a skill, a group where people come together and really enjoy or are touched by a speaker, or a program where people are delighted that they are learning to something. It is just a wonderful situation, and it's a wonderful thing to be part of that."
As much as she enjoys the programs and the people in the library, there will also be things that she will be less likely to miss, specifically the day-to-day minutia.
"There is so much going on often that you can spend an awful lot of time doing little things that don't feel quite so significant, and not be able to get to the bigger things that you like to sink your teeth into more," said Hillier. "There are pieces in every job, I think, that different personalities like more or less, but there is so much in this job that I truly love, that I will truly miss all of that."
Though she is beginning to think about retirement and reflect on her time with the library, she still has a lot to get done.
"There are a lot of things I want to get straightened out so that whoever comes behind me will have as smooth a time," Hillier said.
Hillier hopes that whoever comes after her will be able to keep up with changes in technology and incorporate them into the services the library offers, to help the library continue moving in a positive direction.
"Somebody to come in who is more technology oriented than I am will only be healthy in terms of understanding applications that can be used for that," said Hillier. "I think libraries are so many things — they're so much more than material, so much more than just the materials that people can check out and take out the door. That is a big piece of it, and it's a very important piece, but libraries are also places where people come to use our computers or our databases to find the information that they need to find."
A big part of Hillier's vision for the future of the library is not only increased use of technology, but also to help keep the good old fashioned sense of community alive and well in Plymouth.
"Libraries are a very important piece of the fabric of a healthy community, and part of that piece is providing ways for people to come together in face-to-face dialogues, and for people to be together listening to something or exploring ideas together," Hillier explained. "I think my biggest hope for the library is that it will continue to be a really welcoming place where people can come together to keep having all of the conversations that need to happen in a healthy world."
Hillier says that it will be good to step away from being the Library Director so she will have the pleasure of being a patron.
"I certainly intend to be a regular user here at this library," Hillier said. "I many take advantage of that lovely little seating area we have here. My husband and I will come read the papers in the morning. But I will definitely be here as a user, a patron and as a cheerleader."
As promising as her new role as a library patron is, Hillier recognizes how special her time working for the library has been.
"I have been very privileged to have had this opportunity to help shape the library here in Plymouth," she said, "and just to be able to serve the community this way over this period of time has been such an honor."