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Sherwood librarian ready to turn page

After 18 years with the Sherwood Public Library, Pam North retires


by: GAZETTE PHOTO BY RAY PITZ - Pam North is ready to turn the page as she retires from Sherwood Public Library after 18 years, the last eight spent as head librarian.When Pam North began her duties as a part-time assistant for the Sherwood Public Library in 1996, the library was housed in a cramped space next to the Sherwood Senior Center. At the time, circulation was 74,399 items in a building that would later serve as a church. Fast forward to 2014, and the spacious new library now checks out 137,406 items a year in a sprawling building that includes Sherwood City Hall on its top floor.

Now, after 18 years — the last eight spent as head librarian — North is retiring.

“When I started, we had VHS tapes,” recalled North about the old building. “We did not have Internet. We brought in Internet about six months after we opened.”

A technical writer working for Clackamas County for 13 years before arriving in Sherwood, North went back to school while working at the library, earning a degree in library science from Emporia State University.

When the city approved plans in 2002 to start building a new library, citizen focus groups got together, headed up by both North and then head librarian Ann Roseberry, and a variety of other people, to determine a funding source and what the footprint of the building would look like.

North praised Roseberrry’s work and vision for dreams of a new library into a reality.

“She was the driving force behind this building,” North said.

The city then hired THA Architects out of Portland to design the library.

“We were very fortunate that they had worked on a lot of libraries,” said North.

In the end, the space allowed not only the library to locate on most of the bottom floor but was able to house City Hall offices on its second story as well.

North recalls that architect Thomas Hacker told library staff that once the building was completed, they would come in each day and automatically look up at the massive arched ceiling and wooden beams.

“It’s still, after these years, truly a magnificent structure,” North said. “I think it’s breathtaking.”

Over the years, North said the changes in technology have made the library system better, recalling that not so long ago, the library catalog was housed on an old Dynix Automated Library System computer that showed only white letters on a black screen. Before that, searching for books involved sorting through card catalogs found in hardwood chests.

Still, while the surge of the Internet has changed how patrons seek out reference materials, the library is still there to provide assistance.

“We still offer reference service,” she said. “We’re much better trained than Google is.”

During North’s tenure, there hasn’t been a huge increase of staff, which hovers around a total of 13 to 14 full- and part-time people, who are “extraordinarily efficient” and are a wonderful staff, she said.

In addition to its regular staff, the library and North have relied on about 30 regular volunteers who help check in books and pull holds each day. North also has had the support of the Friends of the Library, a volunteer group that recently donated a video reader board, which can be found in back of the checkout desk.

Meanwhile, City Manager Joe Gall said North will be missed.

“Our organization is blessed with many talented staff, and I hold Pam as one of our best,” he said. “We will miss her leadership in the Sherwood library and wish her the best in her upcoming retirement.”

A West Linn resident for the past 28 years, North plans to spend her retirement years traveling with her husband.

“We go to Cape Cod every summer, she said. “(We are) planning a trip to Vienna.”

Still, she will remain involved with libraries, continuing to serve as chairwoman of the Public Libraries Division of the Oregon Library Association.

So what will North miss most about not coming each day to a place that has become quite familiar to her?

“Probably just the feeling of being of service,” she said. “Every day in the library, somebody thanks you for something and it’s the most wonderful feeling.”

A new head librarian will be selected soon, and a retirement reception is planned for North on June 25, from 3 to 5 p.m., in the library’s community room, 22560 S.W. Pine St.




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