By Roz Kohls
DASSEL, MN Dassel librarian Sandy Ward has decided the time has come to pursue other interests. Her last day at the Dassel Public Library will be Wednesday, Dec. 31.
Ward still will work in the Dassel Elementary School media center, but after almost 20 years in the city library, she wants to spend more time gardening, volunteering and enjoying other avenues than she was able to do as a librarian.
“I’ve been interested in books all my life,” Ward said.
Ward worked in both her high school library and college library. She received her bachelor’s degree in literature from Southwest State in Marshall, and intended to eventually get a master’s degree in library science, she said.
Ward married Bill, who later became the director at Lakeside Health Care Center of Dassel, and they moved to Spencer, IA, where Ward worked in the regional library center, she said.
They had three children, Tiffany, Jeff and Abby, all adults now, and moved to Dassel in 1981, because of Bill’s job at the nursing home.
She never did get the degree in library science, but that didn’t hold her back from getting involved in both the Dassel Public Library and media center at the elementary school.
Their next door neighbor, Gladys Paulson, was the Dassel librarian then. She helped get Ward a part-time job at the library.
Technically, Ward is not the head librarian. The position is held by Jeanette Stottrup of Litchfield, who also is head of Litchfield’s public library. Ward doesn’t have to do the budget, but she does most everything else, she said.
Ward said she will miss chatting with the library patrons about books they’ve read or want to read.
Books about Amish people are the most popular for adults in the Dassel area, Ward said. There are many Amish people in Minnesota, and Dassel residents enjoy stories about the prairie, and stories with happy endings, she added.
Children’s favorite stories have changed over the years. They like Scooby Doo, stories about Disney princesses, and Star Wars.
One particular group of stories children enjoy and Ward likes to read aloud to them, is about “Skippy Jon Jones,” a chihuahua. It’s particularly fun to read aloud because the little dog in the story has a Mexican accent, she said.
Ward’s personal favorite children’s books are “The Little Engine that Could,” and “Curious George,” she said.
Ward’s all-time favorite book for herself is “Rebecca” by Daphne Du Maurier. She also likes to read books by authors John Sandford, James Patterson and Michael Connelly, Ward said.
Guessing which books library patrons will want to read is one of the most challenging parts of being a librarian, she added.
Sometimes Ward will order books on the best seller lists. Other times, she can tell from circulation records which authors Dassel area residents are reading.
Sometimes she falls back on old favorites, such as books on needlework, decorating and gardening, Ward added.
Ward couldn’t recall having difficulty finding a particular book for a patron, however. The Dassel Public Library has access not only to the Pioneerland Library System, but also Minnlink, the University of Minnesota, and all the library systems in the state. It might have taken some time, but Ward was able to locate those hard-to-find books, she said.
Keeping up with changing library technology was challenging. As soon as Ward learned one system, it was changed to a new system., she said.
The Dassel library also has computers for patrons. Adults use them to check their e-mail and favorite web sites, and children play games on them, she said.
About half the library patrons use the computers. The other half come for books and DVDs, she said.
What Ward liked the most was having the community take advantage of library services. She recalled a time when a child and his mother were preparing to check out books at the counter. The child thought his mother’s library card was a credit card. He pointed out to his mother that they needed to “pay” for their books before they left with them, she said.
Not only did Ward think it was amusing, but it reminded her how great it is that library books and services are available to the public for free, she added.