Thursday, June 16, 2011
Library director retiring this month
By SUE WATSON
County library director Diane Schule is retiring June 30, 15 years to the day when she took over as head of the Marshall County Library System.
Co-workers say she has been wonderful to work with.
Jean Algee, who retired in May as assistant librarian and who had served as interim director several times, praised Schule for her management style and as a person. She said she has enjoyed working for Schule.
“She showed no partiality,” Algee said. “She was really a super director. She’s one of the best. You could talk to her and she would try to take care of it without bringing your name up.”
Anne Bennett, assistant librarian for three years, said Schule had brought in resources such as computers, a reporting system, online job applications and other modern technology for library users.
“She allowed her assistants to come up with ideas to increase circulation and to attend workshops,” Bennett said. “She enjoyed teaching the summer reading program for kids.”
Frances Buchanan, an avid reader and Friend of the Library, praised Schule for the job she has done and for her personal friendship.
“We are going to miss her, I tell you that,” Buchanan said. “I hate to see her retire but I don’t blame her. She’s brought grants and I took an adult computer class there. She loved the kids.”
Buchanan said she has had more time to read since she retired.
“I had more time to read and to do a little volunteer work,” she said.
Some improvements Schule has brought to the system are the bar code scanner for checking out resource materials and the effort taken to fill special requests through the interlibrary loan system.
Buchanan said she loved to talk about what she reads with Schule, who is a well-rounded reader.
The Schules moved to Memphis, Tenn., from the Fairfax County, Virginia, area so her husband could take a job. They now live in Holly Springs. She had library experience in a Catholic high school and before that at the Fairfax County Library.
She reviewed the library status in Holly Springs when she arrived in 1996 and discussed how she looks at changes in the way libraries deliver resources today.
“In 1996, we were pretty much just lending books and magazines,” she said. “Now the big discussion is how libraries will become electronic and virtual and accessible at home by computer. In the future, if you want an actual book, I predict you will go to your library and ask for a printout.”
But, electronic and digital storage for library uses is not time-tested, and Schule worries about books being lost if they are not printed on paper, now becoming a more valuable and costly and eventually perhaps rare resource.
“So I don’t know whether digital will hold up,” she said.
Reading a science fiction story about the disappearing age of library books, Schule said the author wove a story of the only place where a book could be held and read was a museum.
“Paper is so ridiculously expensive,” she said, “and all digital and electronic (media) they had determined to have put too much faith in it.”
Schule thinks public libraries will continue to exist and to grow and she envisions them being a lot like community centers.
“I think we will be community centers,” she said. “The mission of a public library is to connect people to the information they want. I hope people don’t stop reading. I think culturally it’s important.”
Schule said she likes to read from a book rather than from the computer screen. She believes that the brain pathways (memory tracts) laid down from reading from a book are different than the pathways laid down by reading from digitally stored books.
She prefers a classical education to scientific and technological education, if one must choose. She believes a liberal arts education is important because it teaches a person to think and to express themselves verbally.
Some books Schule said she would be happy to know a lot of Americans have read are listed below.
“There’s a lot of fiction here, but it is, I hope, well-written, well-researched fiction,” she said.
“They are enjoyable books, that might also open up ideas about how other people live, what other people might believe, and how America got to be the country it is. All of that is valuable, I think. Everyone should come up with their own list for this. It’s fun. I keep thinking of others.”
• Major religious texts – the Bible, the Torah, the Koran – are givens.
• Classic things, like “Plato’s Republic,” “The Iliad,” and so on, are interesting, but hard to plow through, and most people won’t read them.
“I wouldn’t pick them up for a cozy evening in front of the fire either, although I read them in school,” Schule said. “And Beowulf was one of the most gruesome things I ever had to read, I don’t care what it represents in literary history. Read things you enjoy, that make you think.”
• “Aesop’s Fables.”
• Anything by Shakespeare.
“Maybe “Hamlet” in particular, but listen to it or see it on the stage; it makes more sense,” she said.
• “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick.
• “George Washington, a Life” (the new one by Ron Chernow) 1776, by David McCullough.
• Queen Victoria, any good biography (80 years of the world changing very fast).
• “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens.
• “Nicholas and Alexandra” by Robert Massie.
• “Eleanor and Franklin” by Joseph Lash.
• “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell.
“It’s just iconic,” she said. “I don’t offer it as accurate history.”
• “Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane.
• “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
• Autobiography of Frederick Douglass.
• “Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck.
• “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.
• “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain.
• All the “Little House” books, (in order, plus a biography of the real Laura Wilder).
• “My Antonia” by Willa Cather.
• “True Women” by Janice Wood Windle.
• “Shogun” by James Clavell.
• “Art of War” by Sun Tsu.
• “The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan.
• “Kiterunner” by Kaled Hossieni.
• “Cry the Beloved Country” by Alan Paton.
• “American Plague” (by a Memphis author, Molly Crosby, about the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1878).
• “And Ladies of the Club” by Helen Hooven Santmyer – “Just because I loved it,” Schule said.
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