by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
Our children’s librarian Jan Pease was recently honored for twenty years of service to Pioneerland Library System. She was given her 20-year pin at an annual reception at our library system headquarters, celebrated alongside others who’d reached milestones in 2011 and those who’d retired, including our own Jeanette Stottrup. Jan has worked all of those years at the Litchfield Library in its various locations, and I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight her career spent serving this community.
Jan actually began work at the Litchfield Library 21 years ago, in January of 1991. Her primary responsibilities have always been in the children’s department, taking over the summer reading program her first year. That’s twenty Litchfield summer reading programs so far! Last year she also took on the summer reading program in Cosmos because of the loss of their library and the retirement of their head librarian. She provided a weekly event in their elementary school that included a story hour and crafts.
I’ve asked Jan about her career memories so far here at the library. One of her best summer kickoffs happened before we were in our new building. The theme was “Wolfin’ Down Books”. A patron brought in her 140-pound sled dog that looked like a big fluffy wolf. Jan says, “He was a gentle giant and the kids loved him, but he smelled pretty doggy. It was still fun. He worked for hot dogs. Now we actually pay for someone to come.”
Jan has worked in the library when it was on main street, in the temporary location at Emmaus Place, and, of course, in our current building. She says, “I never want to help move any library, anywhere, ever again.” It has been an eventful 20 years in the library’s history.
Jan has been involved in early childhood collaborations in our community through the years. She is an active member of the Early Childhood Initiative, a member of the ECFE board, and a partner in the Meeker County Born to Read program, which distributes free children’s books to new parents. In 2007, she was awarded the Litchfield Education Association’s Friend of Education Award “in appreciation for her contribution to educating our youth”. In the words of Laurie Ortega, assistant director of Pioneerland Library System, “Jan is a true advocate for children, literacy, and libraries.”
Jan has become an expert in her field. She has presented workshops at literacy conferences and at the Minnesota Library Association conference. She has also taught enrichment classes at Ridgewater College in Hutchinson and Willmar.
Of course, Jan (Mrs. Pease to the kids) leads three story times a week at the library, always incorporating best practices in early literacy. We get huge crowds of little ones with parents and grandparents who come to sing with Jan’s guitar, dance to Jim Gill CDs, and listen to the latest, greatest picture books that Jan is so good at finding. Jan does all of the children’s and young adult book ordering for the Litchfield, Dassel, and Grove City public libraries. When you see wonderful kids’ books in our library, it’s because Jan chose them. She also has established the after school and middle school book clubs and set up our 4-H at the Library program. Our children’s program offerings are excellent because she has worked to make them so.
Jan’s customer-centered philosophy is apparent every day as she helps both adults and kids. She says, “The patrons are everything. Sometimes it’s been difficult to watch favorite patrons age, become frail, and pass away, but they have enriched my life. The children are amazing. Their energy and excitement about learning is contagious. If I seem younger than I really am, it’s because of a weekly infusion of toddlers and preschoolers.”
Jan has also embraced the technology changes that have come to libraries in the past twenty years. Everyone on staff knows that Jan is the person to go to with computer challenges. She says that the technology we use every day now was unimaginable back when she started.
Finally, Jan says that those two decades have gone incredibly fast. She says, “I probably won’t get a thirty year pin like Jeanette, but I hope to work as long as I can.” Jan is a fantastic resource to our community, and I’d like to congratulate her on her 21st anniversary.