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Librarians' farewell stories

Central Library staffers will end 16 and 34 years of service with goodbye readings during story time for children.

September 15, 2010|By Britney Barnes, britney.barnes@latimes.com
  • Mary-Pat Gonzalez, left, and Nanci Williams-Grove, right, two long-time librarians at the Central Library in Huntington Beach are set to retire. Photo taken Tuesday, Sept. 14.
Mary-Pat Gonzalez, left, and Nanci Williams-Grove,… (Scott Smeltzer,…)

Walking up the Huntington Beach Central Library's spacious circular driveway and into the high-ceiled foyer, patrons can turn right or left.

Right will take readers to the biographies, Charles Dickens tomes and latest John Grisham thrillers, but turning left and walking all the way down the corridor leads to a world for those under four feet.

As kids approach the children's wing, they are greeted by colorful fish in a humongous aquarium, before bubbles are blown down on them from a bubble machine and a life-sized plastic boat, complete with sail, catches their eye sitting in the back of the library between the rows and rows of books.

No one is asked to be quiet, and several times a week, children can be seen dancing or singing along during story time – their own theater.

The Children's Library, which hosts 17 story times a week and checks out more books than its adult counterpart, is losing the woman who helped create its world and another who helped maintain its charm through songs and storytelling.

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Senior Librarian Mary-Pat Gonzalez and Principal Librarian Nanci Williams-Grove are retiring Sept. 30 after 16 and 34 years of service, respectively, but the two don't want to leave without a farewell story time. Gonzalez has two story times left at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sept. 25, and Williams-Grove will do one final reading Sept. 25 as a goodbye to the library. The two are hoping to see some of the children, many now grown with their own children, they have shared a book or song with over the years.

"I'm kind of hoping that for the last story time, it will kind of be a story time reunion," Gonzalez said.

'That was it'

Hosting story time hasn't been the main responsibility of both women for some time now as they moved into the administration side, but it remains one of their favorite parts of the job. Both cognizant of their responsibility as a child's first introductions to the library and world of books and learning, they have spent their years making sure children had the best experience and learn to love books.

Neither started their careers at the library, but found their place in the children's section.

Williams-Grove worked in elementary schools and preschools before applying for a job as a library clerk in the mid-1970s after the Central Library first opened. She never left.

"Once I got into that environment, that was it," she said.

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