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Library Director to Retire

LONGMONT, Colo. – While it’s business as usual at the public desks and patron areas of the library, behind the scenes staff are still coming to grips with the news that their much-loved library director, Judith Anderson, is retiring on March 30.
Longmont Public Library
(Sergio R. Angeles/Longmont Observer)

This content was originally published by the Longmont Observer and is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

LONGMONT, Colo. – While it’s business as usual at the public desks and patron areas of the library, behind the scenes staff are still coming to grips with the news that their much-loved library director, Judith Anderson, is retiring on March 30. A library employee since 1989 and director since 2008, Anderson has worked in every library department and witnessed a myriad of changes to libraries in general and our library in particular, including the move out of the library built in 1972 to a temporary library and then back into the current library building, which opened in 1993.  She’s guided the library through the growing pains that automation brought and the ongoing struggle libraries face to remain relevant and useful in the wake of Google and the internet.

Originally from Holyoke, MA, Anderson attended undergraduate at the College of Wooster in Ohio, where she majored in geology (just ask her about rocks!), and received her Masters of Library Science from Kent State.  During her long career in the world of libraries, Anderson has worked at all three types of libraries – academic, corporate, and public.  She began her career in the Life Sciences Library at Penn State University and followed that with a period as library manager for the Valero Energy Corporation library in San Antonio, TX.  In 1987, she moved to Colorado and secured a position as a substitute librarian in Jefferson County before finally landing in Longmont in September of 1989 as the System Administrator/Head of Technical Services. Over the next 19 years, Anderson held multiple positions in the library, first as a Reference Desk Librarian in Adult Services, then as the Head of Circulation, and finally as the Head of Children’s and Teens Services, before being selected as Interim Director in August 2008. Following a competitive national search and a rigorous interview process, Anderson was hired as Library Director in November 2008. She fondly recalls her interviews for the position, relating that it was “the most fun” she ever had interviewing for a job.

Early in her tenure as Director, Anderson was confronted with a faulty library software program that regularly crashed before she worked with the vendor to migrate to a secure software platform. Shortly thereafter, she led the move to join the Prospector Library Consortium, which permitted patrons to request items from 42 participating libraries and have those items arrive within a week. She also helped create the Longmont Library Festival, which ran for five years, and the Authors’ Open House, which is still a patron favorite.  No new concept or idea was ever beneath her consideration; it was Anderson who conceived and promoted the idea to circulate unconventional items, such as appliance meters, radon detectors, and telescopes. She also was responsible for introduction of the Library’s Experience Bags and the opening of the lobby gift shop. Under Anderson’s leadership, in April 2016, the Library joined the Flatirons Library Consortium, enabling patrons to access over 750,000 items from five local libraries and receive most items by the next day.

During her career in Longmont, Anderson received multiple awards, including an “Above and Beyond: Star Performer” award in 2003 for research support she provided to a Public Safety project and a “Beyond the Call” award in 2016 for her collaboration with the Children & Youth Services division on an after school meal program.  Finally, she received the highest honor a librarian can receive from the Colorado Library Association when she was awarded the “Librarian of the Year” in 2016.

When Anderson reflects on her time at the Library, she does so with a smile.  She remembers the day the building was hit by lighting in 1989, and all the computers were damaged.  She talks about how staff attacked the overwhelming task of converting the library materials to include tags that could be read by automated machines to simplify checking items in and out.  Finally, she laughs at how she helped move all the library materials into the new building in 1993 when she was seven months pregnant with her son. 

Anderson has distinguished herself as someone who consistently approaches change and challenges as opportunities, without ever losing sight of the library patrons, their needs, and the role the library serves in our community.  She will be sorely missed by her library colleagues and by the many patrons who know her by first name.  But as Anderson knows, change is inevitable.  As she recently recounted, “I remember after the new library software problems and then moving to the Prospector system, a staff person asked me when does the change stop, and my answer was ‘never.’ Change is not easy, and it can be wearing.  The rate of change in society keeps moving faster, and libraries are no different.” 

In retirement, Anderson plans to travel domestically and internationally – her first trip with her husband is to the Netherlands in April for a bike and barge tour of the tulip fields – and she looks forward to more time to camp and garden, too.  Lobby gift shop customers will be happy to know that she also plans to continue creating the beautiful book art that is a perennial favorite with shoppers. Like many facing retirement, however, Anderson is equivocal about her upcoming departure. While she is looking forward to joining her husband in new adventures, she often gets misty-eyed talking about her time in the Longmont Public Library.  “I’ll never forget how everyone came to my wedding at the Callahan House and how supportive they all were when my son was born. This hasn’t been just a job. I’ve been part of a wonderful family.”

This is a news release issued by the Longmont Public Library and is published here as a publci service.