FOSTORIA - After a career lasting nearly four decades, Kaubisch Memorial Public Library's leader has stepped down.
Today is the first day of retirement for Dee Conine, who most recently served as director, technology coordinator and system administrator.
"This was my first job after college, and I've been here ever since. ... Books and libraries have always been a very important part of my life. I worked in my high school library. I worked in my college library," she said.
Conine, a Republic native, said she has a liberal arts background. She graduated from Ohio State University and took business courses at Tiffin University.
After graduation, she went to Fostoria, her husband's hometown, and the library was the first place she went to while looking for a job.
When she was hired, her primary responsibilities were reference work and inter-library loans.
"Technology changed all of that," she said. "I've seen a lot of technology change through my years here. We automated in 1997. That's when we had our very first public access computers in the building. We had two of them."
Conine became the system administrator, the person who takes care of automation software, and became the library's assistant director in 2005. As the library began adding computers, she also became the technology coordinator.
The library first had two public computers and now has more than 50 computers in the building, including 16 that allow public access.
Providing Internet access to patrons has become one of the most important services the library offers, Conine said.
"We often have people waiting in line to use our computers," she said.
Conine said she served as interim director three times.
"I was officially appointed director in 2009," she said.
Conine said the last several years have been intense with budget reductions and passage of a levy in November, which took a lot of her time.
She said she hasn't had time to think about her retirement plans much, and she will have to see what evolves. Her husband already is retired.
"He was anxious for me to retire, and we felt it was just time. ... I need some time to relax and decompress to begin with," she said. "There are many home projects that have been neglected. My husband and I need to get busy with those. We would like to do some traveling."
Conine said retirement is going to be a big change and transition for her. She said she will miss the people - the wonderful staff she had the opportunity to work with
and the library's patrons - the most.
"I will miss the library," she said. "I know that I will."
Conine said the board is seeking a qualified candidate to serve as director. Nancy Whipple, the library's fiscal officer, is serving as the interim director.
Whipple said the good of the library and the public it serves always was first and foremost in Conine's mind.
Conine always took an extra step to help people and will be missed, she said.
"The library has been her life. ... She, along with some other loyal patrons, were instrumental in getting our levy passed," she said.
Conine said she has enjoyed her career and considered it a great opportunity that she has been able to work for 40 years in wonderful place and community resource.
"It's been a privilege," she said.