Jane Gilbert became a librarian at age 17, before man walked on the moon. Last week she closed the book on her career, retiring from Rotorua library where she has worked for 30 years, 24 of which were in the same role. Samantha Olley flicks through Gilbert's career highlights and challenges.
Jane Gilbert's 30-year story as a Rotorua librarian has reached "The End" on a satisfying note.
On Monday she walked through the Te Aka Mauri doors with a giggle to hand in her overdue books, not to start her working day as library director.
She announced her retirement earlier this year and her last day was on Friday.
She told the Rotorua Daily Post this week she was going to miss the people the most, both the staff and library members.
"I have got to know some of the regulars quite well and watched children grow from being toddlers, then suddenly they're at high school and then they're getting a job."
Gilbert said being a librarian was never boring.
"Every day is different, there's always a challenge."
Some of the biggest challenges were moving library locations, not once or twice, but four times.
"The first was in the early 1970s when the library was in what is now the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre banquet room, then moved to where OfficeMax is these days on Fenton St. Then in 1991, we came to the current site. We borrowed a whole lot of hospital trolleys for that.
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"Then went to temporary accommodation on Pukuatua St. That was difficult as we had to downsize and fit all of the staff in one room, we were basically on top of each other.
"Coming back to the latest site wasn't so bad as I had done it so many times, I knew what had to be done, and all the new shelving was ready."
Gilbert started her library career "before man walked on the moon" and has watched the facilities evolve.
"They are not just for people looking for books. They are spaces for social communication, and magazines or newspapers."
Gilbert's library career started in Rotorua when she was 17, filling a junior role for two years.
After working elsewhere, in 1989 Jane returned to the Rotorua Library as a lending services librarian, before she successfully applied for the director position she has been in for 24 years.
Gilbert was made an associate member of the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa in 2004.
One of her favourite visitors from the writing world has been Dame Fiona Kidman, the novelist, short story writer and poet.
"She used to work here before I started so it was always good to see her."
Another highlight was the opening of the new library and children's health centre with the Lakes District Health Board.
"I'm so proud of how the staff handled the pressure, how well they performed and how everything came together. Even while we worked through the expected teething issues, the staff remained positive and the end result is a library like no other," she has previously said.
Rotorua Lakes Council manager of arts and culture Stewart Brown said Gilbert had provided an invaluable contribution to the organisation.
"Her knowledge and connections, both in the library industry and local community, will be greatly missed."
Te Aka Mauri has received numerous awards and accolades since it opened, including the award for collaborative government action at the Local Government Excellence Awards on April 11.
Rotorua Lakes Council is in the process of appointing a permanent library director. Lois Haddon is the acting library director in the interim.