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Library staff recall a job well done

Mary: Retiring on two tires

By November 23, 2020September 16th, 2023No Comments
Mary Gibney-1977

Mary Gibney, 1977

How did you get started at the Libraries? 

I started as a student working in Central Technical Services, typing multi-part RMA forms for book orders. I was taking art classes and the Wilson Library was handy.

What was the campus like then?

There were still driveways in the now-plaza area outside Wilson from ghost houses that were removed to build the West Bank. You could walk straight down to the river road through what is now Ferguson. Studio Arts was in the old sign painting building facing what had been the old Washington Avenue bridge. It’s now a solar panel area. The West Bank still felt pretty new and raw. And I remember the Wilson Library escalator! It confused people because it only went one way — up from the basement level to the main floor.

How have the Libraries changed over the years? 

We’ve become much more complex and outward looking. Not just a place to get books, but so much more. World class for sure!

How did this change your work?

Mary Gibney

Mary Gibney

When I worked in Library Administration (for former University Librarian Eldred Smith), I would schedule meetings for him. Usually no more than one in the morning, one in the afternoon. Sometimes a lunch meeting. The pace of work was slower and determined by meetings, phone calls, mailed memos, and typed letters. There was lots of xeroxing and collating. Staff and students had regular potlucks and parties, sometimes with actual alcohol, such as Don Kelsey’s Irish coffees on St, Patrick’s Day. Often, we’d send a student off to buy donuts at Gordon’s Bakery in Dinkytown.

How did you and the Libraries adapt?

I quit and came back a number of times, traveled, worked for the University temporary service. When I came back from a long bike trip, I got a job working for the emerging IT dept headed by Charlene Mason and Audrey Grosch. Exciting times!  LUMINA! The LUMINA Training Manual!

What will you miss? 

My co-workers most of all. And the miles of wonderful books, especially before the Dewey collection was weeded and moved to storage. So fun to browse the shelves for weird titles you would never think to actually search for. And I really wish I had some card catalog cards.

What are you most proud of?

Being part of the Libraries as a whole, and how we deliberately changed to be leaders.

What was the favorite part of your job? 

Riding my bike to work! Ha, not only that of course. Really, just being in the knowledge community. Knowing I was part of a system which values research, learning, freedom, expression, intellectual inquiry, that’s huge. And feeling that my job helped others do theirs.

You’re an artist — has that meshed with your U career? 

Thankfully, because of my understanding bosses, I’ve always had a less-than-fulltime position, which gave me some time to do art. The attitude of do your best here at work and then have mental energy and time for a passion has made it possible for me to continue as an artist.

What do you plan to do in retirement? 

More art, more travel. Watch baseball. Ride my bike!


Author markenge

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