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By Missy Klatt
BOYCEVILLE – After 35 years at the Boyceville Public Library, Marguerite Blodgett is ready to close the book on that chapter of her life as she is set to retire on July 27th. The Library will be honoring her years of service with an open house on Tuesday the 27th from 12-5pm.
In July of 1989, the Blodgetts had just moved back to Boyceville and were helping to move the library materials from downstairs in the town hall to upstairs. “After that Polly Gropen, the current director at the time looked at me and said ‘you want a job?’ I said uh, I have a baby [their son was seven months old at the time] and she said we can make that work.” Thus the start of 35 year career of part time work at the Boyceville Library.
Blodgett started at the library in August of 1989. But before that she was the cataloger at Washington University in St. Louis. Her husband, Earl, was in graduate school there before he got a teaching job at UW-River Falls and they moved back to the family farm. Marguerite and Earl have three grown children, Mathew and twin daughters Melissa and Jessica who are all graduates of Boyceville High School.
Blodgett was actually an Agricultural major with an emphasis in horse science when she met her husband. When she knew that he was going to go to grad school she decided to add library science because she knew that where he went there would be libraries and “I liked libraries and thought, let’s add library science to this mix and I will be employable where ever I end up,” commented Blodgett
Even though Blodgett’s primary duty has been a cataloging and inner library loan, she has done a little bit of everything over the years. Cataloging is making it easier for the user to find books. It’s their job to make sure the title, the author, the description, subject heading and call numbers are all accurate and easily accessible.
Blodgett was one of the few catalogers found in any small library and, as she puts it, she is now redundant, because as of January 1st the MORE system went to a centralized cataloging system. The MORE (My Online Resource) system consists of 52 libraries in western Wisconsin that have joined together to allow patrons the ability to access materials from all the different libraries (inner library loans). The resources total more than a million items.
Blodgett spent 18 years on the Bibliographic Records and Standards Committee for the MORE system. She was the voice of the small library on the committee.
Over her career Blodgett has seen many changes but the biggest she would say is going from paper card catalog to online. “Back in the day I could file an inch of cards an hour, accurately and that was approximately a hundred of them,” states Blodgett. “It was a real skill and everyone had to file cards for an hour a day when I was at the university.” She smiles and remarks that joining the MORE online system was nice. Boyceville was actually the fifth library to join the MORE consortium and that was back in 2001.
Another big change that she talked about was the card pockets in the back of the books. She recalls that years ago when they had about sixty kids in their summer reading program they would pull out the cards that were attached to the kids’ books and clip them together and stamp the due date in the back and later we would have to go in and hand write the card number on every book pocket. Things are much easier now when all they have to do is scan all the books and then hand them a print out.
Blodgett has worked under three librarians at the Boyceville library, Polly Groupen, Rundi Myklebust and Ginny Julson, the current director who has been there the longest for Blodgett’s career. As a side note Blodgett’s mother-in-law, Loraine Blodgett was the librarian back in the 70’s.
Blodgett says that she loves it when someone, a kid or an adult will come in and ask for a book recommendation and the next time they come back and they ask ‘you got anymore?’
Another time Blodgett helped a gentleman become a library user. Blodgett tells the story that this gentleman had bought a World War II Russian Army rifle. He had been quickly shown how to load it, etc., and he got home and he couldn’t t remember how to load it. So he came into the library to see if they could find any information. This was at the time when the internet was just starting out. Blodgett did quite a bit of digging and actually found him a U.S. Army manual from WWII that had been written on the gun and showed how to do the maintenance and everything. He had never been a library user before that but came in fairly regularly until they moved out of the area.
Blodgett recalls when she first started, she was helping with story time. She didn’t realize that her job description would include zipping toddlers’ snow suits. She said that they had several daycares that would bring the kids in for story time and trying to get all the kids bundled back up was a production.
As to why she decided to retire now, Blodgett said that her husband was retiring this year so she thought she might as well too.
What she is going to miss the most is the interaction with people and the relationships she’s built. She’s seen kids grow up here and now they are bringing their kids to the library.
Retirement plans include helping their daughter update a house she just bought. That’s the first month and a half of retirement, Blodgett jokes. However she says that she is going to take it pretty easy this first year. Maybe do a little bit of traveling. Her and her husband like to geocache and have created many spots around the Boyceville area.
They like to pack a picnic lunch and go geocaching for a day. She tells of a recent trip when they were on the Ice Age Trail geocaching when three bear cubs ran across the trail in front of them. Fortunately the momma bear had already crossed before the cubs (they could hear her crashing through the trees).
Blodgett first got into geocaching with girl scouts. She still assists the Boyceville troop, just completing her 25th year as a volunteer with them. She will also be staying on the Friends of the Library, something she has been a part of for most of her career and she’s always available if someone has a question.
Retirement will also give her more time to ride her horse and make quilts and hopefully travel more as things open up. She states that she is giving herself a year to discern what she really wants to get involved with. She has her stuff at church, Friends of the Library activities but she doesn’t plan on taking on anything new for at least a year.
As for her loyal library patrons Blodgett states that she is going to miss them. “It’s been fun working with them, I’ve enjoyed helping them. And hope to run into them when I come into the library to get my things. It’s going to feel strange not walking in and grabbing my books off the shelf and checking them out myself.” She continues, “I’ll stay loyal to Boyceville. I like my little library. It’s more of a family feel than a business feel, it’s a place where kids can feel safe and welcome. We’re part of the community.”
“I loved having a part time job that allowed me to be a care giver for my mother-in-law for over ten years because I have that flexibility. I could be a Girl Scout leader, a band parent. It allowed me to use my skills and I enjoyed the challenge of cataloging things, figuring things out, how to make it most accessible for people but it also allowed me to be active in the community as well it was a nice mix. I really treasure that.” For her it was the best of both worlds. “I was lucky to have that,” she concludes.