Long-time Richards Library director Sarah Farrar pauses before cutting the first slice out of a cake fashioned like the top-hat of Dr. Seuss’ Cat-in-the-Hat character. With her retirement pending, Farrar was honored Sunday Dec. 1 for her 39 years of service to the library, which included mentoring children and conduting countless story-time sessions for youngsters.
Sarah Farrar, the long-time director of Richards Library who is retiring in several weeks, was honored Sunday Dec. 1 by a gathering of community residents at the library.
Mary Cranker gazed at Farrar as the librarian cut a cake fashioned like the fanciful top-hat worn by the Dr. Seuss’ Cat-in-the-Hat character, a gesture that commemorated her 39 years of service to the library — particularly reading children’s tales to youngsters.
Farrar has the distinction of being only the third director of the library since it was founded 112 years ago.
Cranker recalled how her children, now middle-aged, spent long hours in the library and were read to by Farrar’s predecessor, Jennie Cameron. She also remarked about how Farrar in more recent decades would reach out to readers of all ages, and imbue them with a love of books and reading.
“I’ve always looked forward to that phone call from Sarah, ‘The books you ordered are now in,’” she said.
Linda Lamy, who’s served as an assistant librarian for 24 years, said Farrar was fun to work with, not only due to her cheery attitude, but because she’s been caring and warm with people of all ages.
“Sarah goes out of her way to make people feel comfortable,” she said. “She’s a very social person with both adults and children.”
For years, Farrar accommodated children after school and either helped them with their studies or kept them entertained until their parents got off work — although the library trustees through the years objected to some adults misusing the library as a daycare center. Farrar, however, remained cheery through those incidents, sometimes staying late at the library to care for children until their parents finally showed up, various adults, various people recalled Sunday.
Mike Sullivan, the incoming library director, said Farrar has for decades helped current and former residents uncover genealogical information.
“It scares me that when she leaves, she’s taking 40 years of institutional memory with her,” he said.
“She’s a vital resource of information — and she will continue to be,” Sullivan added, pledging to consult with her in the coming years.
Teresa Whalen, who worked to get the core of Warrensburg listed on the National Register of Historic Places, said Farrar had been diligent in researching community information vital in achieving that coveted status.
“Sarah is our community’s ultimate source of historical information,” she said.
Rod Kenyon, president of the Richard Library’s board of trustees for a quarter century, agreed with Whalen.
“Sarah’s a wealth of knowledge, and she’s so conscientious,” he said.
Farrar has undoubtedly seen plenty of changes over her tenure. She began as a librarian at Richards Library several years before Elvis Presley died — long before the personal computer and decades before the public had access to the Internet. Gesturing toward the library’s new array of computers, Farrar reflected Sunday on the evolution of library technology she’s witnessed since the mid-1970s.
“My job has been about answering people’s questions, and finding information that people want,’ she said. “Although it may be now accessed by a computer, they still want information, they still want a story.”
Farrar, 70 or so, said she finally decided to retire after 39 years — for more personal time — although her predecessor, Jennie Cameron worked at Richards library for a monumental 57 years.
“I decided there was no way I was going to work until I was 80 or 90,” she quipped.