Sharon Edwards was just looking for a job — any job — when she joined Fort Macleod RCMP Centennial Library as assistant librarian.
Little did Edwards know she was writing the first chapter in a story that would only end almost 32 years later when she retired as head librarian.
“I had no knowledge of libraries,” Edwards said Thursday as her last day of work drew to a close. “I was green.”
Edwards might have been green when she started as assistant to head librarian Maryanne Hardy, but she grew into the position.
The library board organized a come-and-go reception Thursday night so people could pay tribute to their long-time librarian.
“I can’t imagine Main Street without you,” library board chairman Marilyn Roemer said.
Edwards received gifts and bouquets of flowers from long-time patrons.
Colleen Brooks, who worked at the library for eight years under Edwards’ supervision, praised the head librarian as “an amazing boss.”
“She made the place come alive,” Brooks said of Edwards. “It was the best job I ever had.”
Edwards moved to Fort Macleod from Bermuda in 1980 following the death of her husband.
With no experience in the position, Edwards completed the Library Technician program offered by the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology through distance learning.
In 1981 Edwards became the head librarian, and in the following three decades watched and learned as libraries continued to evolve.
Changing technology, the expansion of the library into the space formerly occupied by the Welcome Mat seniors’ centre, and the establishment of the Chinook Arch Regional Library System were highlights for Edwards.
“Chinook Arch has been a godsend,” Edwards said of the regional library system, which gives people in Fort Macleod access to materials at other libraries across southwestern Alberta.
As she prepared to end her career as head librarian, Edwards saw more advances in technology changing people’s relationships with libraries.
E-readers and the ability to access library materials on-line are among the changes.
“We’re finding a lot of our patrons don’t come in here any more,” Edwards said.
Edwards was showered with gifts and hugs on Thursday night as people came to the reception to wish her well, bringing tears to her eyes.
“This has been an emotional week for me,” Edwards said. “That’s what I’m going to miss the most — the patrons.”
“It’s been absolutely wonderful,” Edwards said. “I loved my job. I used to say I have the best job in town.”
After taking a break and doing some travelling, Edwards will start writing the next chapter in her life, which might still include the library.
“I’m going to let my name stand for casual (work) so I can come in once in a while.”