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Friday, January 25, 2013 5:57 PM

‘Fixture’ of library announces plans to retire, celebration set for Thursday

By BOBBY BURCH, Herald Staff Writer

One of Ottawa’s most experienced literary leaders is set to check-out of circulation.  

After 31 years of service to the Ottawa Public Library, Rosemary Rice is planning to retire from her post as head librarian.

“I’m really going to miss everybody here,” Rice said Friday. “It’s been a real blessing for me to be able to have this job and to work with the people I do.”

Rice, 55, grew up in Emporia and attended Emporia State University, where she earned a degree in psychology, she said. Working with the Ottawa library since 1981, Rice experienced the organization’s move from the Carnegie Cultural Center to its current location within Ottawa City Hall, 105 S. Hickory St., Ottawa.

“I loved it — the old architecture was really cool,” Rice said of the Carnegie building, noting that she was also fond of the former library’s wooden, “U-shaped” circulation desk.

During that move, Rice estimated that she helped staff members move roughly 50,000 books a few blocks northeast off Ottawa’s Main Street. While it was a difficult move, Rice said she’s happy it was carried out.

“It was a lot of work moving those old books,” Rice said. “That was a challenge, but it was nice to have the handicap accessibility of that [new] building. That was a problem at the old [library].”

The library recently commended Rice on her service, adding that her kind spirit and skill will be missed.

“Rosemary has been a sturdy fixture of our library since it was located in the Carnegie building on Main Street,” the Ottawa Public Library said in an announcement regarding Rice’s departure. “She has grown through the years as the library has grown, and we will miss her expertise and her friendly personality.”  

Also during her time with the Ottawa Library, Rice experienced the organization’s transition with new technology, namely via computers and the Internet, she said.

“It’s changed so much from when I began,” Rice said. “Getting computerized was a huge change and of course the Internet made a huge difference too.”

The Internet also seems to have made an impact on Rice, as she’s an avid blogger, updating her “The Daily Planet” journal with weekly posts regarding activities to spur personal development. Eventually, Rice said, she’d like to compile the posts into an e-book.

After her retirement, Rice said she plans to move to Kansas City with her husband. From there, the couple hopes to travel the country and partake in some fishing adventures in the north-central U.S.

“I’m very thankful that I got this chance,” Rice said.

The library plans to honor Rice and celebrate her retirement 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Ottawa Public Library, 105 S. Hickory St., Ottawa.

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