|Stanwood Library staff members Almira Jones (right) and Marlene Moodie are the longest-tenured employees in the Sno-Isle Libraries system.
Sarah Arney photo
By SARAH ARNEY
Stanwood Camano News
Even though they don’t get to sit around reading books all day, Marlene Moodie and Almira Jones still love their jobs at the Stanwood Library.
The two Camano Island residents are the “longest-tenured librarians in the Sno-Isle Library system,” said Charles Pratt, Stanwood’s managing librarian.
As children’s liaison, Jones has been telling stories to kids in Stanwood since 1982, after starting at the library in 1978.
Next August, she will celebrate 40 years with Sno-Isle Libraries.
Jones moved to Camano in 1974 after a lifetime of adventures as an “Air Force brat.”
Now, she enjoys taking children on adventures around the world.
“I focus on a different letter for each story time, starting with the name of a place,” Jones said. “This week the letter was “I” and we went to Iceland. We journeyed by ship through the Panama Canal to get there.”
The kids color the country’s flag and Jones searches for recipes of the country that start with the same letter.
Maybe it was ice cream for Iceland.
Even more senior in the system, Moodie has done a variety of jobs in the Sno-Isle system and she admires Jones’s storytelling ability.
“A long time ago, when I was branch manager at Brier, the storyteller was out sick, and since the program must go on, I stepped in to fill her spot,” Moodie said. “I did this and I did that, then looked at a clock and only 15 minutes had passed.”
She then realized that telling stories was not as easy as it sounded.
“The kids love Mira (Jones),” Moodie said.
Jones said it is fun being somewhat of a celebrity around town.
“In the grocery store, I often hear in the distance, ‘there’s Mrs. Jones’ or ‘there’s the library lady.’”
Jones has watched her story-time babies grow up and bring their own children in for story-time events. She enjoys a good challenge. At 68, she is now adding to her responsibilities a new position, reference librarian.
“She’s a great role model,” Moodie said about Jones. “She’s always willing to step out of her comfort zone.”
In the community, Moodie might be best known for her purple hair, but the staff knows more.
“Marlene is a true treasure,” Jones said. “She provides support for everyone.”
Because she has held so many positions within the Sno-Isle system, she understands how it all works. She came in very handy when Sno-Isle’s computer system crashed recently.
“She did a yeoman’s job,” Jones said, to get the system back up and running.
The crash was bigger than the public imagined, the librarians explained. Every item, system-wide, had to be handled twice. Removed from the shelf, rerecorded, and replaced on the shelf.
In the midst of it all, they were always concerned about their customers.
The senior librarians are all about service.
“We tried hard to maintain normalcy and find what everyone needed,” Moodie said.
Now serving as circulation manager in Stanwood, Moodie has gone somewhat natural recently with “human-colored hair,” albeit two different shades.
Moodie started with Sno-Isle Libraries as a page at the Arlington Library when she was in high school, but her 41 years does not include that. Now 60, her professional life with Sno-Isle started in 1976, right out of high school, but she took time off when her son was born. He also served as a page while in high school, she said.
“I earned the Golden Cane Award when the last longest-tenured person retired two years ago,” said Moodie, who first worked in interlibrary loans at the service center and drove the bookmobile for 13 years, then supervised pages in Mountlake Terrace, before managing the branch library in Brier.
She came to Stanwood three-and-a-half years ago, shortening her commute from Camano considerably.
“Now I can go home for lunch and feed the dogs,” said Moodie, who cares for six rescue dogs.
She also enjoys being somewhat of a public figure in Stanwood.
“It’s a nice, friendly town,” both librarians agreed. “It’s fun running into people you know at the grocery store. It’s nice to be a part of the community.”
“It wasn’t like that in Brier,” Moodie said, where people have so many different options for shopping.
The librarians see their role at the library as a window to the bigger world beyond Stanwood. For both, being a librarian is more than a job.
“We help people find information,” Moodie said. “I like to share as much knowledge as I can.”
The same is true for Jones, too.
“Children are like sponges,” she said. “Kids who attend story times at the library do better at school.”
The women say that Sno-Isle Libraries supports them in their own efforts to learn, share and grow.
“We have trainings going on all the time,” they said.
Even after 40 years on the job, neither have plans to retire.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Jones said. I used to be afraid about making a mistake. Now, I’ve gotten to the age that I’m not worried about it. I’ll just go for it.”