Tauranga historian Jinty Rorke will always remember the year she retired as the fulfilment of a quest begun 18 years earlier.
It's not that she dislikes her job _ quite the opposite actually.
Her retirement on December 6 as Tauranga's New Zealand Room librarian sees her farewell a workplace far removed from the cramped conditions that prevailed just six months earlier.
Adding two storeys to the downtown library building and shifting the New Zealand Room collection into a vastly improved area upstairs was the culmination of a mission that Mrs Rorke started in 1989.
That was the year the city's modest collection of historic books and archives shifted from the comparative spaciousness of rooms in the now demolished Town Hall into the cramped confines of the ``new' library.
Although the collection has grown enormously under her management, the space to house the new material scarcely increased at all _ to the point where they literally ran out of room.
So there was a strong sense of irony that, after years of making do with an inadequate workplace, she retires a mere six months after her beloved New Zealand Room trebled in size.
Mrs Rorke has given 27 years of her life to a job which became her passion. Honoured with the Queen's Service Medal for Community Service in the New Year's Honours List last year, the historian has transformed the collection from modest beginnings.
In 1980 when she was hired as the city's third archivist, the collection basically consisted of the Sladden Collection of early New Zealand books, and old newspapers, photos and pamphlets.
Now she derives huge satisfaction from the recognition given to the library's New Zealand Room.
Although the shift upstairs only happened in June, she has become so used to the new environment that she wonders how on earth they coped in the old library.
"No wonder we could not work effectively."
She notices that people making use of the New Zealand Room's resources now stay much longer than when things were cramped.
"There is a lot of space and it is a more comfortable environment to work in."
It got so bad prior to the shift, that what should have been working space became storage for the never-ending influx of donated material.
Less than a month from her 65th birthday, Mrs Rorke can reflect on the huge progress which has seen the New Zealand Room collection become an indispensable part of the library.
Despite all the frustrations, she describes her 27 years at the helm of the New Zealand Room as ``great fun'. She particularly enjoyed the great diversity of people including old city identities.
Priorities for retirement will be getting her garden in order, finishing off the family genealogy and starting work on writing an illustrated history of Tauranga.