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Greencastle librarian says 'The End' to rewarding career

January 31, 2007|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, PA. - When Donna Thomas walked into the Lillian S. Besore Memorial Library in 1964, the stacks of books, the crisp card catalog and a new glass display case told her she was home.

"They were unpacking this glass case here when I walked in that day, and I just knew as soon as I saw it I wanted to work here," she said.

Hundreds of faces and thousands of books later, Thomas is retiring from her 42-year career at the library.

"I will miss the people," she said.

Thomas began working part time at the library in 1964 as a library assistant. A young woman in her 20s, Thomas moved up to a full-time job four years later and quickly became known as a people person.

Library assistant Andrea Bowersox said Thomas is "incredible with people."

"She literally knows everyone who walks in the door, their name and their children's names even," Bowersox said.

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For Thomas, happily helping library patrons always has been part of her job description.

"We have a saying here, we are, 'A friendly library in a friendly town,' and that is what I do," she said.

While the library system has evolved from small-drawered card catalogs to computers, Thomas always has remained a smiling face for patrons of the small library in Greencastle.

"We don't have to help people like we did in the beginning," she said.

Even though the public now can access the library catalog online, the digital age has not prevented Thomas from touching lives.

Thomas told the story of a soldier who would come to the library to use the computers.

"He could have used the Internet at home, but he came here," she said.

In December 2003, the soldier honored Thomas by giving her a flag signed by soldiers serving in Iraq.

"It touches me so because we are still in wartime," she said.

Bowersox said Thomas helped build the library with her great knowledge of what people read, what they wanted to read and her kind service.

Despite the memories, Thomas said it is time for her to retire and said she plans to travel. No matter where her travels might take her, the library always will be a part of her life.

"This is my second home away from home," she said. "I will certainly be back soon as a patron."

The Lillian S. Besore Memorial Library will host an open house in Thomas' honor Feb. 8 from 5 to 7 p.m.

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