This college’s library down to five full-time employees.
By Kyle R. Cotton
The library celebrated the careers of four retiring librarians Friday but lamented that their departure, along with other cuts, reduces this college’s library staff by 58 percent.
Dr. Karen Balcom, Bob Singh, Tom Kuykendall and Candace Peterson, who were honored in Moody Learning Center, have worn multiple hats in their 40-plus years at this college.
Librarian Christina Petimezas gave her impressions of the four retirees and talked about Webmaster, and records Manager, Dr. Balcom’s interest in new-fangled technology and other, “areas we literature majors don’t understand at all,” Petimezas said.
Balcom, a former student assistant at this college, reminisced about when she was first hired. She said when she applied in 1973 it was basically an afterthought, thinking she would take a job somewhere else.
“They must have made it interesting since I’ve been here for the last 40 years,” Balcom said.
Foreign student liaison and reference librarian Singh said he will miss the students most.
“I will miss interacting with the students most of all,” Singh said.
He told stories of many of the students he worked with in great detail, as if it were yesterday.
The most notable was a young man from Singapore who came to this college thanks to his family, who ran a limousine service.
During the young man’s time at this college he would stay with Singh’s home until the semester started because he felt lonely.
Years later, Singh would visit him in Singapore where he discovered the young man had turned his family’s limousine business into a large-scale company that has contracts with all the foreign ambassadors in the area. The company provided not only transportation but also a personal security guard to protect them to and from their destinations.
Singh said he would travel the world once he retires. He said he has traveled to locations like Dubai and Singapore during his time at this college.
Peterson, who retired in May and came back for this celebration because she didn’t want a party just for her, was the department chair for the last 15 years with a motto, “I talk to administration so you don’t have to.”
She said her one big accomplishment was getting rid of periodicals, recognizing the importance computers would play in the future and the time-consuming nature of putting periodicals together and maintaining them in a physical form.
She said she looks forward to retirement and enjoying some free time.
“Weekend? What’s a Weekend?” Peterson joked.
Petimezas also included humor in her remarks. She joked about her response when the college originally hired the four.
“Why the heck did J.O. (Wallace, director of learning resources at the time) hire this bozo?” Petimezas quipped.
She said she was happy his decisions were spot-on when he hired them.
Literature expert Kuykendall was unable to attend the celebration. Kuykendall credit for purchasing most of the library’s English literature collection, which is one of the largest collections at this college, according to a prepared statement that Petimezas shared with The Ranger.
The statement highlighted Kuykendall’s love of poetry, and included an anonymous poem in his honor.
“You and I are friends/You laugh, I laugh/You cry, I cry/You scream, I scream/You run, I run/You jump, I jump/You jump off a bridge, I’m going to miss you buddy,” Petimezas wrote.
Due to budget cuts and these retirements, starting next semester this college will have five full-time library staff members, instead of the 12 current full-time members, according to reference Librarian Tom Bahlinger.
Sam Cresswell, a former math professor who retired in 2010, said the library is an important part of the school.
“The library is the central membrane of the school, and the fact that the schools across the district are cutting library staff despite static student population is part of the reason I left,” Cresswell said. “Much of education is self-motivated, and without these people here to help guide them we’re just telling students to do things without consideration whether or not they are learning the material.”
Petimezas ended the celebration with a bittersweet goodbye to the four retirees.
“I saw all of you come, and I watch all of you go,” she said. “Both occasions are happy and sad. Thank you all.”
For more on this college’s library, call the office at 210-486-0559, or visit Room 205 in Moody Learning Center.