Library Director Louise Murphy retires at the end of June.

Celebrating Louise Murphy

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Thursday June 19, 2014

After thirteen years as the director of the South Burlington Community Library, Louise Murphy will be retiring at the end of June. For those who have kept up with library activities over the years, it is hard not to take notice of the increase in programming and use of technology that has taken place during Murphy’s tenure. From the breadth of events scheduled for residents of all ages to partnerships with local businesses, Murphy has certainly left her mark on one of South Burlington’s prime community assets.

Murphy’s journey into the field of library science did not follow a direct path, but given the fact that she is a lifelong lover of libraries, it turned out to be a natural fit. Murphy began her career as a registered nurse and worked at Boston Children’s Hospital, Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital, and in South Burlington, in pediatric medicine. Although Murphy enjoyed working as a nurse, the evening and weekend hours posed scheduling challenges as she was simultaneously trying to raise a family. That’s when Murphy decided to pursue a master’s degree in library science from Villanova University. She had envisioned working in a medical library; instead, her path led her to a school library, a public library, two university libraries, and then to the South Burlington Community Library in 2001 where she became the first full time library director. Over the past thirteen years, Murphy has implemented numerous programs including the food revolution series, armchair travel, great decisions discussions, the brown bag lunch series, photography, a concert series, the Miss Rita Bookmobile, the 20-30 something book group and more. One of the areas Murphy has most enjoyed developing is the music program. “I have enjoyed being able to place a strong emphasis on music in the library through the Lifelong Learning Music series, Sunday afternoon concerts, and children’s programs” Murphy said.  

Murphy’s accomplishments are evident even to infrequent library guests, a testament to her dedication, passion, and warm demeanor. “I would like to think that I have enhanced the library as a community meeting space where people of all ages feel welcome and can find something special, whether it is reading, using computers, attending programs, or using and getting assistance with new technologies,” Murphy said.

As the Community Library has expanded, space has become an issue both for staff and for program facilitation. Murphy remarked that she would love to see the Community Library move into a freestanding building, separate from the high school. While there are advantages to being in the high school, they do not outweigh the challenges and the lack of autonomy for the public library, Murphy added. Despite the space crunch, staff has made the most of every crevice and has continued to provide exceptional learning opportunities for the community. “I am very, very proud of the library team of employees that we have been able to put together over the years. They have been incredible colleagues and provide top-notch services to our community,” Murphy said.   The feeling is mutual. Marjorie VonOhlsen, who was the children’s librarian for sixteen years, had only good things to say about Murphy. “She was a wonderful director to me, very encouraging... it was a wonderful experience. She helped by adding so many new programs for adults and children. She allowed her staff to grow and expand programming despite the fact that the library has been growing out of its space, ” said VonOhlsen.  

Some say that when you do what you’re passionate about for a living, it no longer feels like work. That certainly has been the case for Murphy. When asked about her greatest challenge as director, she said, “Having too much fun at work and never wanting to go home.”

Yet, going home will now allow her the extra time to pursue her passions aside from reading; travel, gardening, skiing, paragliding, sailing, piano lessons, and dog walking, are on her list. “But most of all, I am looking forward to having more time to spend with my family and friends and taking the time to smell the roses,” Murphy said.

You can give your best wishes to Louise at a celebratory gathering organized by the Friends of the Library, Sunday, June 29 after the 2 p.m. Aoife Clancy concert at the library. Punch, sandwiches, and cake will be served as the community toasts to Louise Murphy and her years of service.

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent