After 21 years of working for Delta County Libraries, Myrna Westerman is retiring, taking with her all the lore and history that she has collected in that time. Best known for her role as the manager at Paonia Library, Westerman experienced the excitement and challenges of building a new library, the overwhelming process of moving from a card catalog to an electronic circulation system, and the pleasures of working with many, many different people. A number of Westerman's anecdotes relate to past staff members and volunteers, including her introduction to working at the Paonia Library.
"I started in April 1995 when Shirley Lund began thinking about retirement," says Westerman. "I was very fortunate to train with her until January 1996 and then I became the manager. I never thought of myself as her 'replacement' because she was one-of-a-kind and was synonymous with the Paonia Library for many people. I have worked with some wonderful staff members through the years and always felt we were a team."
Westerman's enthusiasm for interactions with people is further made clear when she declares, "The patrons are the best part of the job! Their support and love of the library are what keeps us going."
Undeniably, there have been times for Westerman in the past two decades when situations were frustrating enough to need that extra buoyancy from the public, but her optimistic outlook allows her to see the good that has emerged from hard work and perseverance. She justifies every challenge with its successful result, which is a testament to her positivity, her willingness to see the big picture, and her determination to reach a functional solution, all traits which will be missed by her co-workers at the library district.
District staff consistently applauds Westerman's leadership. Jane Kelso, who has worked with Westerman at the Paonia Library for almost 12 years says, "Myrna has always been an encouraging leader who never fails to be open to trying new things. Some of our most successful programs came about because she supported us and allowed us to follow through on our ideas. She has inspired us."
"Myrna is irreplaceable, and it has taken some shuffling to try to fill the gap," explains District Director Lea Hart. "But, of course, we have to let her retire. She has been literally counting the days for the past year."
A sendoff party will be scheduled at the Paonia Library later in April for those who wish to celebrate Westerman's retirement. Until then, Westerman can think over the good times and the bad as she enjoys her well-earned free time. Already reminiscing, Westerman says, "This has been an incredible experience for me and I feel privileged to have had this position. It doesn't seem possible that so many years have gone by, but I am ready for retirement and more time with my family."