Library director Sandra Barron retires after 24 years

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The Clayton County Library Association said goodbye to Guttenberg library director Sandy Barron at their meeting on Jan. 9. They also welcomed new Guttenberg library director Katie Beitzel to the group. Front from left are Heidi Feuerhelm, Monona; Lisa Pope, Elkader; Cathy Shaw, Edgewood; Mary Fran Nikolai, Garnavillo; and Katie Beitzel, Guttenberg; back row, Patty Lincoln, Strawberry Point; Sandy Barron, Guttenberg; Michelle Petit, McGregor; and Becky Spielbauer, Volga. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Guttenberg Public Library director Sandra Barron will retire after 24 years of service at the end of January. Here is what Barron had to say about her experience as the director.

How many years were you employed with the Guttenberg Public Library?

I began working at the library in 1995 as a library assistant when Mary Ackerman was the director. When Mary retired six years later, I was hired as the new director. I have served at the library for a total of 24 years.

Can you describe some of the projects you completed during your tenure?

Some of the highlights of my career were helping to automate the library, developing its technology resources, and adding electronic services for patrons such as the library’s website and searchable catalog, online newspaper archive, Wi-Fi service, Bridges downloadable e-books and audiobooks, and Freegal downloadable music. The number of programs and services offered to the public has been increased as much as possible.

Throughout the years, generous donors and people who have made bequests to the library have made several major projects a reality. 

Improving handicapped access, redecorating the library, which included installation of new carpeting and improving the shelving, painting the walls, and the purchase of new furniture and a fireplace have made the library a cozy and home-like place to be.  New tile replaced old in the library lobby and restrooms. Replacement of fluorescent lights with new LED fixtures created better lighting along with energy savings. The purchase of new outdoor electronic sign helps people know what events are coming up. Some brick repair and tuckpointing was required to restore the exterior of the front library. Work to update the library landscaping was a recent improvement. 

All these projects were made possible not only by donations given to the library, but by the work of dedicated library staff members, library trustees, and volunteers. The support of these people is greatly appreciated!

Do you have a heart warming story you would like to share?

One of my favorite library memories took place several years ago. A handicapped patron called the library one day to ask if I would pick out a book for her because she was unable to come to the library. I said that I would choose a book that she might like, check it out, and stop at her house after the library closed. It was an easy thing to do, since I walked past her home every day when I came home from work.

At happened to be a very gloomy evening ­— chilly, with dark clouds and a strong north wind blowing in my face. It was not a very enjoyable walk. I also had a lot on my mind at the time, and was feeling rather tired.

I knocked on her door, and heard her say, “Come on in.”  I stepped inside and she greeted me with a smile. She was always very appreciative, and thanked me for bringing her the book. Then she asked if I would like to see a gift that someone had just given her. I said, “Sure.”  She went to her shelf and took down a small, bright-colored automatic flower in a pot. The flower had a cute smiley face on it. She turned it on and music began to play. The flower swayed back and forth as it sang, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray.” We both chuckled at the cheery little flower.  

Then I left her house and continued walking the remaining blocks, I did not even notice the dreary weather. I was humming “You are my sunshine…”

This lady was such a blessing to me. She turned my perspective around, and I will always remember how she brightened my day.

After retirement what are your future plans?

During my retirement, I plan to work on several projects at home. I also hope to have more time to read and to be outdoors. I am looking forward to swimming laps more often at the new Guttenberg Swimming Pool!

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