Library Director Mary Karshner, left, and Emily Dumas, head of youth and teen services,  stand in front of the circulation desk at the Royal Oak Public Library Jan. 9. Karshner is  set to retire March 1, and Dumas will assume the role of library director.

Library Director Mary Karshner, left, and Emily Dumas, head of youth and teen services, stand in front of the circulation desk at the Royal Oak Public Library Jan. 9. Karshner is set to retire March 1, and Dumas will assume the role of library director.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Royal Oak Public Library director to retire March 1

Youth services head to assume library leadership

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published January 16, 2019

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ROYAL OAK — Longtime Royal Oak Public Library Director Mary Karshner will retire March 1 and hand the reins to a familiar face.

Emily Dumas, the current head of youth and teen services for the library, rose to the top of a pool of approximately 25 applications from near and far.

Karshner began her career at the library in 2002, performed a stint as interim director and then became the permanent director in early 2010.

One of her first responsibilities as interim director was to create a budget with a 12 percent cut due to the recession, but Karshner said she was pleased with the way the library navigated through it.

She said the library reduced its hours and charged a rental fee for DVDs, as well as reorganized its staffing. For some time, she fulfilled the roles of both director and head of youth and teen services.

More recently, Karshner said, she is proud that the library added Sunday hours.

“That’s something people in the community had been wanting for a long time. We are open 1 to 5 (p.m.) during the school year; during the summer, we don’t do Sunday hours,” she said. “I think  for years we’ve had the reputation of the staff being helpful and friendly, and also a good reputation for the variety and quality of the programs we offer.”

Before attending school at Wayne State University to become a librarian, Karshner said, she worked around the world in the archeology field in the 1970s. She cited her aunt, who was a librarian, as a major influence on her.

After retiring, she said, she is “just going to hang loose.” A longtime Royal Oak resident, Karshner said she is looking forward to a more relaxed schedule and spending time with her first grandchild — her son and his wife, of Royal Oak, welcomed a baby girl into the world in September.

Karshner credited Dumas with kick-starting many popular programs in the library’s youth and teen departments. 

“Emily has done a fantastic job getting some outreach going,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll have somebody in place (as the head of youth and teen services) by the time she’s director.”

Dumas, a Troy resident, began working with the Royal Oak Public Library in 2009, and also took on a second part-time position at the Ferndale Public Library. In 2012, she served as a full-time children’s librarian at the Commerce Township Community Library before clinching her current position in 2016. 

“I loved the atmosphere and loved the culture of the library,” Dumas said. “Mary has been awesome as a director. I’m very thankful for the position and thrilled about the future of the library.”

She said she plans to increase efforts to spread the word about all the library has to offer at no charge to people of all ages, from programs to databases to e-books and more.

Judy Davids, Royal Oak community engagement specialist, attributed the success of many library programs to Dumas, and she called the 36-year-old mother of a daughter who is about to begin school “amazing.”

“She’s very young and she has great ideas,” Davids said. “She really improved the teen room. Before, it was nonexistent, and I think that just characterizes Emily and her commitment to the community and young people in particular.”

She added that Dumas has always been a willing volunteer to help her don the Romi the dog costume, the city of Royal Oak’s mascot, which can become rather hot at times.

The Royal Oak Public Library is located at 222 E. 11 Mile Road, east of Main Street.

For more information about the library, visit www.ropl.org or call (248) 246-3700.

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