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Librarian Marilyn Shea Retires After 33 Years

After thirty-three years, Marilyn Shea has closed the chapter on her career as the Librarian at Kindersley’s Wheatland Library.

Many of us have fond memories of attending the library and chatting with Marilyn while scanning the shelves for our next great read. But, for those who may not know Marilyn as well as others, she was born and raised in the Kindersley area and has lived here all her life except for a four-year stint in Saskatoon. After marrying her high school sweetheart, Ron, they went on to have four daughters and nine grandchildren, and have recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Together, they have farmed in the Beadle area since Ron graduated from the College of Agriculture. While raising her family, Marilyn was active in several local groups: 4-H, Reta Rebekah Lodge, Beadle Ladies club to name a few.  

Growing up, Marilyn would often read with her family and visit the library to check out books, but becoming a librarian wasn’t her immediate choice when attending university. However, after attending a job/education fair in her first year she discovered a new class at the tech called Library Technician. After registering and enjoying the class, she went on to work in the Reference Department at the Saskatoon Public Library. When she and Ron moved back home, Marilyn took a position as the Westberry School’s secretary/librarian and worked there for four years until their first daughter was born. 

While staying at home to raise her family, Marilyn called herself the “gopher” for the family farm, running errands and such, until their youngest started Kindergarten. After that, she went to work at the Kindersley Branch Library, where she stayed until mid-December!

When asked how things have evolved over the years, Marilyn explained there have been “monumental changes” since she started in September 1988. “Then everything was done by hand,” she said. “Hand-stamped and patron initialled. Requests for books were filled out by hand and sent in by an envelope. Returned books were sorted by the date due and the file of the cards was gone through, pulled, and returned to the book. Now everything is computerized and we’ve even had three or four changes in circulation programs to learn and then forget when the next one came along! Now the books are checked out, returned, requested all by computer. In 1988, books were requested from within the Wheatland Region, now it’s a province-wide request system. However,” she says fondly, “the people and their love for reading are still the same.”  

During her days at the library, Marilyn would check books in and out, chat with patrons and stay on top of emails and computer-generated request lists. In addition to this, incoming mail requests went from five individual requests a day, to four and sometimes twelve grey Canada Post totes, averaging over 200-300 incoming requests per week. “Once we re-opened after the COVID lockdown we were busier than ever with requests, this was because many patrons learned how to request from home and more families started homeschooling” she shared.

In addition to all of this, the library also started working with partners–like downtown merchants and the schools for ‘Storybook Trails’, which is a fun, educational activity that places the pages from a children’s story along a ‘trail’ in the windows of stores and the schools throughout the community. Marilyn also assisted with operating a library that featured large print books for one hour a week at Caleb Village, delivering audiobooks and large print books to those unable to leave them home. She also helped people file documents on the computers. “We were the only place with public access computers available after the COVID re-opening. We went out of our way to assist people in printing the documents they needed for work and travel, without breaking any of the government guidelines,” she explained.  

During her time at the library, Marilyn has certainly left her mark on those that visited and they, her. “Mostly I will miss the people. I’ve gotten to know some really great people over the years and will miss chatting with them on a regular basis. I also enjoyed seeing the new book titles cross our desks. I’ve discovered some really great authors that way.”

For now, during her retirement, Marilyn plans to focus on her volunteer work while also increasing her fitness level after receiving knee surgery in the fall.

From all of us who have visited the library over the years, thank you, Marilyn, for your cheerful chats, hard work and for showing us how wonderful reading can be. 

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