By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
It was in 1999 that Maggie Holmes was searching for her next adventure in life.
A semester away from completing a library sciences degree at the University of Rhode Island, Holmes saw a job opening at the Richards Memorial Library. A resident of East Providence, she liked the short commute and the notion of working with adults as the Adult Services/Reference Librarian, a change from her last job as a teacher.
Fast-forward to 2020, and she is planning her retirement, taking stock of the last two decades and the memories she has made.
“The best part is the people,” said Holmes. “It’s been delightful having conversations with them.”
Working in a small library gives one the chance to do a lot, said Holmes. Among the roles she has taken on are planning programs for adults, selecting books for the library’s collection, updating the web site and social media pages, arranging book discussions, and much more. A few years ago she worked with a Civil War historical group to plan a number of different events.
Holmes was even the acting director in 2009, when Director Frank Ward had to take a medical leave for a few months. He described Holmes as imaginative, hardworking, and great with the patrons.
“She’s been a wonderful presence here at the library,” said Ward.
Holmes reviews a lot of books, audiobooks, and movies to decide if they’re a good fit for the library. She uses a pre-publication service, a part of the job that is a lot of fun, and looks at literary journals to see what is new or being talked about. Anything by author James Patterson is an easy choice, and for other series, if the review is good then the first part will make its way to the shelves. She also tries out the puzzles that are donated, which entails taking them home and making sure all the pieces are there.
“Luckily I like puzzles,” she said with a laugh.
Much has changed at the library since Holmes was hired, but one of the most significant, she said, is that a lot of what she learned in her library courses doesn’t apply anymore. Back then, she’d see students in the library to work on projects, and enjoyed helping them to research information or find books. Most recently, she’s been helping people who lost work during the pandemic navigate the online job application process.
“In 2008 we started with it, and now it’s back again,” she said.
Retirement during the pandemic means that some of Holmes’ plans—such as traveling and joining a singing group—will need to wait, though she hopes to do some road trips with her husband. She’s also got a lot of book reading planned, in particular the works of Brandon Sanderson. At this time she’s on the third volume of the Storm Light Archive series.
“They’re beautifully descriptive, intricately plotted—all of his books, except for the kids ones, are hooked into the same cosmos and slowly he reveals more and more of what is happening,” she said.
On the first floor is “Maggie’s Favorites” a collection of books and movies that she curates, usually with a theme. Each month she updates this, and with her retirement on Dec. 30, chose some of her all-time favorites, including the movies “Glory” and “The Green Mile” and the books “Shadow Divers,” and “We The Corporations.”
“I’ve had many opportunities to do a variety of things and meet a lot of interesting people,” she said. “You get to discover something new every day.”