Goff-Nelson Memorial Library manager Linda Auclair will retire at the end of August.
When Linda Auclair began her job as the manager for the Goff-Nelson Memorial Library in 2003, people were still using paper library cards to take out books. Now, as she readies for retirement, plastic cards are used and book borrowing is processed on the computer.
During her nine years at the helm, Auclair has seen how technology has changed the way people use libraries. Yet, even with the popularity of ebooks, she believes in the future of paper books.
“I think people will always want some of both,” Auclair said. “And publishers haven’t figured out the perfect price model yet for ebooks. Those are pretty limited unless you want to buy every book you read. So I don’t see paper books at your library going away any time.”
Auclair will be retiring on Aug. 26 after being the Goff-Nelson Memorial Library’s manager since March 3, 2003. Asked what she will do with all her free time, she joked, “I’m going to live a life of leisure.”
“The time is right,” Auclair said. “We have a couple of sons and stepchildren, and they live all over the country and I’m looking forward to being able to spend more time with all of them in the near future.”
Many times, retirees find that they get busier after retirement.
“Everybody’s telling me that,” Auclair said. “I’m going to resist that with everything in me.”
The biggest changes at the library over the past years have been technological.
“We have become automated,” Auclair said. “The circulation of library materials is now completely computerized. Every transaction is recorded and takes place via a computer. It took us a while to learn it. It was extremely difficult at the very beginning because we were unfamiliar with the system, but it worked out well, very efficient, but it was a challenge.”
When looking back at her time at the library, Auclair takes pride at being an accessible manager who was open to ideas.
“You know what I did? I said ‘yes’ to everything that came through the door,” Auclair said. “If people had good ideas, I said, ‘Yeh, let’s do that.’”
Coming into the Goff-Nelson Memorial Library in 2003 on the heels of the retirement of library manager Chalice Dechene could have been daunting for any replacement. Dechene was well respected and had been a fixture at the library for more than 40 years. And working at a community library was new to Auclair; she had worked in the library at the Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake prior to her appointment in Tupper Lake. And she took the transition in stride.
“I relied heavily on the staff,” Auclair said. “They answered a lot of my questions. I asked a lot of questions of Chalice and anybody who would give me an answer.”
Even though the library relies heavily on computer system for managing its books, Auclair sees where technology could help the library even more.
“I think the biggest hurdle we have is to become more technologically adept,” Auclair said. “We should have an interactive webpage. We should have a blog or two going. We should have an in-house network of communication among the employees.”
Right now, patrons can log onto a computer and search for books, not just at the Goff-Nelson Memorial Library but throughout the entire Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System using the interlibrary loan program. They can even take out and renew books from home, logging on to the CEF Library System website.
“They can do a search for a book, and if we don’t have it, we can get it for them in four days from another library,” Auclair said. “That’s how technology is helping us now, and it’s only going to get more and more important.”
The popularity of ebooks and the Internet — long prophesized as the two technological wonders that will eventually wipe out community libraries — has not hurt the patronage at the Goff-Nelson Memorial Library. Auclair says the number of people who use the library may actually be up from nine years ago.
It seems technology is working in the library’s favor. The reason? The price. Although people want to use the Internet, not everyone has the ability to pay for the hardware and online access.
“A lot of people come in to use the public access computers and almost an equal number of people come in to use our Wi-Fi network,” Auclair said.
Yet a lot of people are still using the Tupper Lake library for its original purpose: to borrow books to read. And that’s exactly what Auclair will be doing during her retirement, when she’s not traveling, playing the piano, gardening, cross-country skiing and living the life of leisure.