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March 19, 2014

Library to honor retiring 28-year director

By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer

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Library to honor retiring 28-year director
Blair Memorial Library Director Elizabeth Gulick stands inside the library she has overseen for almost 28 years March 12. She is retiring later this month.
Earlier in March, the Blair Memorial Library Board presented retiring library Director Elizabeth Gulick with a statue commemorating her time with the library.
 

CLAWSON — Needless to say, Elizabeth Gulick is passionate about books.

One of the earliest photos of her was taken inside the main Detroit Public Library in Midtown when she was a child.

Throughout the next six decades, Gulick, now 65, dedicated her graduate studies at the University of Michigan — where she got her master’s in library science — and her career to books. She had worked as a librarian in several Wayne County and Oakland County libraries before moving to the director position at Blair Memorial Library almost 28 years ago.

The job was a perfect fit for her.

“I grew up in the city of Detroit going to big-city libraries and loved them, but my working life was all in small libraries, and I truly, truly love that,” she said. “I liked being in a small community where you got to know your patrons.”

Later this month, Gulick is retiring, but her colleagues are making sure she is not going quietly by throwing her a retirement celebration March 27 at the library, 416 N. Main St.

Jenny Gannod, who is taking Gulick’s place as director, said the event is open to the public and will run from 2:30-5:30 p.m.

“We will have speakers come and say goodbye and talk about how wonderful Elizabeth is,” Gannod said.

Gannod said it was important to send Gulick off properly.

“Elizabeth has just been such a large part of our community,” she said. “So many people want to have time to say goodbye.”

Throughout her nearly three-decade tenure, reading has changed a lot.

It has shifted from paper to screens, a move that Gulick has supported.

“I would definitely say (reading) is not dying,” Gulick said. “While the formats are changing for some people, the basic joy of reading I think, still exists.”

Now patrons can download e-books from the library’s website.

Still, she said physical books are in demand.

“We still see the little ones get their first library card, and their eyes light up,” Gulick said. “And their eyes light up when they take home stacks of picture books.”

The Blair Memorial Library has changed, too.

During the depths of the Great Recession, Clawson voters approved two millages to support the library.

In 2009, they approved a $1.5 million bond to expand the library, which allowed the library to grow its children’s and young adult reading section.

In 2011, voters approved a 0.33-mill tax increase to help keep the library self-sufficient.

The votes were a show of support that Gulick will never forget.

“In spite of the tough times, city residents voted to support the library,” she said. “That was just awesome.”

Even after retirement, the future will be busy for Gulick, who plans to do more volunteering with her free time. One thing she promises not to do is frequently return to the library.

“I don’t want to be like the Ghost of Christmas Past lurking over our staff,” Gulick said. “I want (Gannod) to be able to just soar.”

Still, Gulick will miss Blair Memorial Library and its people, whom she got to know through nearly 28 years.

“I feel so very fortunate to have had this time at the Clawson library,” Gulick said. “It’s been wonderful. I’ve been very lucky.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.