Madeira head librarian retires after 23 years of service

By Regina Villiers. Originally published October 18, 2000 in The Suburban Life, added October 16, 2019.

Madeira librarian and branch manager Janie Pyle has retired.

     For people who hang out at the library, as I do, something is missing at the Madeira/Indian Hill/Kenwood Regional Branch.

     Janie Pyle, branch manager, retired Sept. 29.

     She has been “boss” at the Madeira Library since January 1977 and has spent her entire career with libraries in Hamilton County.  The only other job she every held was during college at Kent University when she had a part-time job with a newspaper, the Rittman Press.

     After receiving her master’s degree from Kent, she landed her first job at Westwood Library in 1968 as the children’s librarian.

     “Times were very different the,” she said.  “The library first allowed women employees to wear pantsuits around that time.  Not pants, but suits with pants.  Before that, it had been dresses and skirts.”

     She also said that the library did not buy paperbacks at the time she started.

     From Westwood, she went to the Bond Hill Branch for two years.  After that she became head librarian at the Roselawn Branch and then spent two years in the downtown library in the film department before coming to Madeira as head librarian.

     Janie grew up in Rittman, Ohio, across the street from Rittman’s small library where she spent all her time.  “If I didn’t come in for a few days,” she said, “the librarian would send me a get well card.  She’d know I was sick.”

     When she was ready to go to college, her father gave her some practical advice:  “Get a degree in something that’s a meal ticket.  You have to make a living.”

     She chose library science, and it has been a good meal ticket.

     Janie speaks often of her father.  “My father was a Renaissance man,” she said.  “He was an English teacher coach-poet-artist.”

     And she speaks often and fondly of her daughter, Sarah (Sarah Kate to mom).  Sarah, a beautiful young woman, has just started her freshman year at the University of Rochester, where she’s a member of the rowing team.

     With Sarah in college, Janie faces an empty nest and feels it’s time for her to take it easier and to have some time for herself.

     For the first year, Janie thinks maybe she’ll just take a sabbatical.  She thinks she’ll just rest, read and ponder, doing only things she feels like doing.  Then she’ll see what come of it all.

      Her life has always been books and reading.  Now, she can read as much and whatever she wants. 

     She also wants to do some writing, something she has always wanted to do since her days at the Rittman Press.

     She’ll also have the freedom and the time to explore things and to learn.  She wants to learn the Slavonic language and maybe some other languages.  

     During her years at the Madeira Library, Janie has influenced the lives of many young people who’ve worked there as student aides.  She was my son Kelly’s very first boss when he became old enough to work at a part-time job.  She may well have been his very best boss.

     At least he still remembers how good that time really was, and he remembers her fondly.  And she still remembers his name. She still remembers the names of most of the young people who’ve worked there.  As the mother of one who experienced it, I’d say it’s one of the most ideal and inspiring first jobs a teen-ager could have.

     Janie has many vivid memories of her years at the library, memories of patrons and avid readers.

     She remembers one older reader who read voraciously and who drove a red Corvette convertible.  Janie can see her now, as she’d speed up to the book drop, with the car’s top down and her captain’s hat planted firmly on her head, to deposit an arm load of books.

     She remembers the travel programs the library used to do, and she remembers Dorothy Crull who did many programs, and who brought Janie a little brass penguin from Antarctica.  Janie helped Crull assemble a program with pictures of all the penguins.

     Most of all, Janie remembers the people she has worked with over the years, especially her first staff who were there when she came.  Most are gone now, but she speaks of them with the fondness of the passage of time.  They were a close group.  When my son worked there, they exchanged gifts at Christmas.  One of the ladies knitted him a red hat.  He still has it.

     So, it’s onward for Janie Pyle.  She still has things to do and hills to climb.  The rest of us will just have to get used to life at the library without her.