Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pine Bluff, Arkansas - Going Back is Hard to Do

January 1, 1991 we awoke in Conway Arkansas, got a key to our new "home" in Pine Bluff, and headed there with all of our belongings, with my mom and dad helping out with the move from Utah to Arkansas.  I started my job with the Library a few days later with the intention of working my first professional Library job for 3-4 years, and then find a Library Director's job somewhere that we would like to settle and raise our kids at.  Nearly 22 years later, and that job, which turned out to be a Library Director's job by 1993, has come to an end.

Officially I have been still employed as we traveled for the past six months.  I was owed nearly four months of sick and vacation, and the Library Board and I made a deal that if they would continue to pay me through the end of September, I would be available by phone and computer the entire six months to assist with the new Director and certain staff at the Library.  Even though I gave a one year notice, the new director did not come on board until two weeks before I left.  The only other stipulation which I asked for was, I get no calls from staff pertaining to the new director.  Although I was the Executive Director now....the Director was in charge off all staff issues, and I did not want to hear about any staff stuff.  This all worked out well that I agreed to allow some communication for the next three to four months as long as it does not consume much of my time.

The Library Board surprised me in my last official meeting with them in that they named one of the Branch Libraries after me.  Today, we met my kids at this Library for pizza, to view the plaque, and to enjoy each others company before Marcia and I headed off to Florida.  Of course, we had just seen Ryan and Stephanie up in Fayetteville a little over a week ago, and we saw Michael in San Francisco, in Sacramento, and in Yellowstone where he was with his mother for a family reunion.  But it was nice to get them all together.
Above are the three kids....Michael, Ryan and Stephanie.  Michael is a graduate from the University of Arkansas and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ryan is a senior at the UofA, and Stephanie has a few more class to take to get her degree from BYU.

Below is the outside of the David Burdick, Watson Chapel Public Library, a branch Library in Pine Bluff of the
Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library System.  The branch originally opened around 1984, and we remodeled the inside during the year 2000.

Above is a picture of the outside of the entryway.  Below is a picture on the inside of the entryway.  The book return is straight ahead, and the plaque to the left of the book drop is what shows that the Library was named for me.
Below is the plaque....I guess it tells it all...

With all of the Libraries, I always made sure that the Children's Area is colorful and fun....the kids are our future, and we have to make the Library a comfortable place that they will "want" to come back to over and over again.
I was lucky to work with one of the best Children's Librarians for many years.  We just called her "Miss Ann".  She was a wonderful person, a good friend, and she loved the kids, and they loved her.  Unfortunately, cancer took her back in 2005 at the young age of 57.  She had worked for the Library for 33 years.  The Children's Library at the Main Library is named after her, as is a special award given out each year by the Arkansas Library Association.  If you want to read the tribute page I put up for her, visit here.  To see the Library named after her, click here.

Probably the hardest thing to find was this stuff dog that looks like Skruffy.  Even harder, is how it moves its head from side to side.  Well....ok, that is really Skruffy....she just had to get into the act at the Circulation Desk.  Many of you know that I got Skruffy three years ago this month, saving her off the streets.  She came to work with me for most of the rest of the time that I worked at the Library, staying in my office.  If I was gone too long, she would let everyone know that she was alone, and wanted me to come back to my office.
Below is a look at the Adult area, and the adult computers.
Having a Library named after you is great honor.  In the Library Board meeting when they did this, one of the board members asked if I thought it was appropriate.  My response was, "Well, it would have been nicer to have free fuel for life to travel on...but to have a Library named after you is a real honor."  What's funny is that she thought I would have rather had free fuel...which, of course would have been nice too, but not a legal use of tax dollars intended for the operation of a Library.  And honestly, it is the biggest honor of my life.....I will need to drive by it each and every visit I make back to Pine Bluff.

So I titled this blog "Going back is hard to do....".  Why?  Because there are many memories these past 22 years.  I lost two dear Library Friends due to death, both at a young age.  Giving up control over the Library was not too hard since I was very burned out from it all.  Too many hours, too many issues with staff, with the lawsuit against the Mayor of Pine Bluff a few years ago, and too many memories from those who were no longer there.  

And then there is this younger generation of workers and the values that they work under...which is different than the values which I worked under.  When mistakes happen, it is someone else's fault.  Getting to work on time, or getting back from lunch on time is hard for some of them.  And in the Library, most of the staff are women....and some women are basically mean to each other much of the time.  These memories make it easier for me to  leave, and make it hard for me to want to return, even for a visit.  But then I still do have a few good friends who work at the Library...and they always make it worth coming back for.

In addition to finishing up business at the Library, I also saw many of my Rotary Friends as I visited both the Tuesday and the Thursday clubs last week.  Another great honor I had was being named a Honorary Rotary Club Member with the Rotary Club of West Pine Bluff (the Thursday Club).  I served on the board, as President, and most of my service to Rotary was in doing the weekly newsletter and the creation of the website, which eventually incorporated the newsletter, for nearly 15 years.

Now, we are headed to Florida for the winter....and just in time, because it is going to be in the low 40's tonight in Pine Bluff.


  1. Zoe just mentioned last week that she'd seen you in Pine Bluff! Next time you are through, please let me know as I'd love to visit with you and meet your wife! I'm enjoying reading your blog and seeing all the great pictures! Thanks for sharing the journey! Carolyn (aka State Librarian)

  2. Congratulations! God truly blessed you, in many ways... Lynn


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