Retired librarian prepares for life’s next chapter
Arlene Lane of Libertyville retired from the Cook Memorial Public Library District in Libertyville in October after 26 years and plans to volunteer on local history and geneology programs at the library. She is looking at the Illustrated Atlas of Lake Co
Updated: December 31, 2012 5:42PM
LIBERTYVILLE —Arlene Lane started working at the Cook Memorial Public Library in 1986.
Her last day was Oct. 12. In an interview, Lane reflected on her 26-year career.
Q. What have you enjoyed the most about your job?
A. I’m a people person so I’ve loved interacting with both staff and patrons. I’ve also been lucky to be able to pursue my passions, which are local history and genealogy. We’ve always had the freedom to work on projects of personal interest to us, as long as they benefitted the library. This work has greatly enriched my life. I’ve also learned so many new skills, such as helping people find accurate information online. We’ve always been pushed to keep up with the latest technologies.
Q. What’s the oddest or funniest question a patron ever asked you?
A. A student, who was probably in junior high, asked me to help her find a picture of Jesus. She said she wanted to know what he really looked like. So that was a teachable moment. Another time the joke was on me when a patron asked for a book whose title sounded like “Sisters of the Carnal Life.” I said it sounded like a hot read, and she looked at me oddly and repeated the title, which I realized, was “Sisters of the Carmelites.” Oops!
Q. How have libraries changed?
A. The most dramatic change has been the shift from print to online sources. People used to ask more simple questions too like: What’s the capital of Vermont? Now you could just Google it. But now the questions are more complex like: How do I start a business? People think that because everything is online, we librarians are less busy, but it’s the opposite. People need help sorting through the glut of information. The purpose of libraries has changed too. Now we’re community meeting places. I notice lots of retirees. In this economy, the library is a great bargain. We have free programs for kids, job seekers and more.
Q. What will you miss the most about working at the library?
A. I will especially miss my colleague and friend Sonia Schoenfield. We wrote a book together, did many talks and presentations together and so much more. She won’t let me retire completely though! I’m still helping a lot as a volunteer.
Q. How does it feel to be retired, and how will you fill your time?
A. It’s a bit like the first day of summer vacation when you’re in elementary school. Suddenly I have so much free time! I’m looking forward to seeing friends and family more. I’m widowed, but I have a special friend, Jim, who lives in Michigan. My son Adam is in Austin, Texas, and so is my granddaughter Briar. In fact, I’m flying out to see them tomorrow. Another son, Justin, lives in Australia. Of course, I will keep volunteering at the library, and I’ll still be on the board of the Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society.