Woodridge librarians celebrated for 30-plus years of service
As library adjusts to technology, times, two women have remained a staple
WOODRIDGE — Libraries have come a long way since the days of typewriters, card catalogs and ink stamps, and two Woodridge librarians have been around for it all.
Kelly Bannon Girard and Amy Chrastka Weiss each were recently recognized for more than 30 years of service at the Woodridge Public Library.
Girard, assistant head of the Children’s Department, has worked at the library for 35 years, and Weiss, head of Technical Services, has worked there for 30 years.
While much time has passed since they both applied for jobs as library "pages" more than three decades ago, much of the mission of the library to provide help, information and services still remains.
"I remember still using a typewriter when I started, having to type up all the cards in the card catalog filing system," Weiss said. "Then, we started getting in those first Apple computers, and replacing the old cards with much newer systems. Now, all the catalogs are electronic, but someone still has to input the information."
Growing up in Woodridge, Weiss was a regular at the Woodridge library. In 1982, she saw a “help wanted” sign for a page position, applied, and got the job. After a few years she was hired as a clerk in Technical Services, typing labels and catalog cards.
But technology isn't the only thing that has changed. The building has as well.
Girard, also a longtime Woodridge resident, remembers the early years of the library when it was located inside a small house along the 2900 block of Forest Glen Parkway in the 1960s, and a time when space was so cramped, books were kept on carts.
She also applied as a page, shelving books, first as a volunteer, then eventually began working there in 1978, when Laurie Kagann was head librarian.
"Mrs. Kagann said that I was at the library so much that she might as well put me on the payroll," Girard said. "I have been here ever since."
Some things have stayed the same over the years, both women said. Many of the storytime programs that were held many years ago are still offered.
"I look back now at families who had children attending storytimes in preschool, now those kids are in high school, and they still come here," Girard said. "I have seen generations of local families that have attended storytimes over the years. It shows the library is part of their lives."
"Families still want to cuddle up with their children to read to them, and whether or not they are doing it with books or with e-Readers, reading won't change," Weiss added. "And books aren't going away anytime soon."
While Girard said that less children are now coming to the library then in the old days, it isn't just because of the Internet and other technology. Families and the community have changed over the years, and the library is seeing that.
"You now have both parents working, and the park district is starting sports programs at a much younger age, attracting kids that once came here," Girard said. "The community has changed a lot, and there are many more things to do now for families."
As both Weiss and Girard reflect on their years with the library, both wonder what the next big thing will be in the future.
"One day we may be able to just a push a button and a computer image of a person will read to kids," Girard said. "But the library will always be here, and will be part of the community."
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