A storied career

Reference librarian retires after 30 years

Dianne Morgan is so dedicated to Camas Library patrons that even a wardrobe malfunction couldn’t keep her from doing her job.

“Dianne was walking away from the circulation desk with a patron when her slip fell down around her ankles,” co-worker Debbie Chevron recalled. “Dianne, being the professional she is, reached down to pick up her slip, put it in her pocket and kept on walking.”

Morgan, 60, will be retiring at the end of September after 30 years at the library. It’s been a storied career for someone who felt totally overwhelmed at the beginning.

“The first day, I was told to sort the books by author, title and subject, and some of the subjects I’d never even heard of before,” Morgan said. “I was sure they were going to figure out I was some kind of fraud.”

Morgan moved past that initial, I’m-way-in-over-my-head feeling and went on to a successful career.

“It was something I was always very dedicated to no matter what else was happening,” she said.

There have been some big changes during her tenure, however.

Morgan has gone from calling local libraries to see if a particular book was located there, to hitting a few keys on the computer and bringing up the locations of every copy of a book from across the United States.

“Technology has changed enormously from 30 years ago, and has made it easier to find stuff and be connected to libraries all over the country,” she said. “But what has stayed the same are the books and the people. Our patrons still have the same needs when they come in.”

Although Morgan is excited to retire and begin the next chapter in her life, it is also bittersweet.

“This is a great job and I love it here,” she said. “It’s absolutely the perfect fit for me. I really enjoy doing what I am doing, and I will so miss the people. You get so close to them, and get to know who they really are and who their family is and what they like. I’ll miss them.”

And Morgan’s co-workers will miss her as well.

Judy Wile, who has worked with Morgan for 20 years, said when she first started she was terrified of her.

“She was such a whirlwind and seemed to know everything and everybody, and I just thought I could never hope to measure up,” she said.

Wile added that Morgan’s best trait is that she really likes people.

“When time allows, she enjoys engaging them in conversation,” Wile said. “Since she’s been here at the library for so long, it seems like everyone knows her.”

Morgan recalled that a patron once told her, “You’ve been here so long you’re like a piece of furniture.”

“But I understood the deeper meaning,” she said. “People are really dear. This place is wonderful and we’re so vibrant here and busy.”

Library Director David Zavortink has worked with Morgan since 1995. He said one of her greatest qualities is being the resident historian.

“She’s always taken a great interest in the history of the library and of Camas,” he said. “When there were questions about either, Dianne was always our first choice for an answer. I don’t know who is going to step into this role (when she leaves).”

Zavortink added that Morgan has a natural ability to retrieve information, which serves her well in the job as a reference librarian.

“Call it ‘thinking outside the box,’ if you want, but using a different approach to getting to information is a great asset for someone seeking answers,” he said.

He said that Morgan has been witness to some of the biggest changes the library has gone through, including a remodel that was complete in 2003.

“She’s had a role in those changes,” he said. “And since ‘libraries change lives,’ she has helped change the lives of many people in Camas.”

Sandy Glover, assistant director, said Morgan was on the committee that interviewed her for the job.

“Everyone else on the committee asked mostly run-of-the-mill interview questions. Dianne asked me, ‘Could I make good cookies?’ This exemplifies her off-the-wall way of looking at the world and what’s really important on a day-to-day basis.”

During all the years Morgan has been at the library, she has heard several interesting and odd questions from patrons seeking information about various topics.

“My favorites are when people ask for biographies on fictional characters or ask for ‘Tequila Mockingbird,’ instead of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,'” she said.

Now that she’s retiring, Morgan and her husband will spend half the year at their house in Puerto Vallarta, where she plans on volunteering at the local library. The remainder of the year will be spent in Camas. “We’re going to have a really good time,” she said. “And I’m looking forward to doing some volunteering.”

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