Farewell to Shane, a Librarian Extraordinaire

This is the story of how one person can make a big difference in a small town. For the past nine years, Shane Malcolm Billings has worked at our town’s library—Charles M. Bailey Public Library. Shane’s official title was Adult Services Librarian, but like all people who excel at their jobs, Shane was so much more than that.

First there is Shane’s love of books. For a librarian, this should be a given. Why work in a library if you don’t have a passion for books? But for Shane, this love could rightly be called a devotion to literature and to writers. Maybe even a way of life. Small talk for Shane often revolved around books, such as how Anne Tyler can still write a fresh story even though she is nearly eighty.

Then there is his keen memory for the names of patrons combined with what they liked to read. In this way, Shane resembled a bartender in a local pub. But instead of serving drinks, Shane served books, and he had a nearly uncanny sense of what patrons would like to read, often before they did.

The following is a true story.

Several years ago, I went to pick up some books I had ordered through interlibrary loan. Among the books was Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym. Shane happened to be working at the desk.

“Huh,” I said. “I don’t remember ordering this one.”

“You didn’t,” came Shane’s prompt reply. “I ordered it for you because I thought you’d like Barbara Pym, and I know you’ve never read her.”

Shane was absolutely right. I liked Barbara Pym so much that I ordered more of her books when I had finished Some Tame Gazelle.

As if all this weren’t enough, Shane is just plain fun to talk to. He has a wonderful sense of humor yet is sympathetic. Along with remembering books and writers, Shane remembers the names of patrons’ grown-up children who have moved away, and he always asks when they’ll be visiting.

But all good things eventually come to an end, and Shane is leaving our library.

Yesterday, there was a surprise farewell party for him at the lovely home of a library trustee. (There will also be an Open House at Bailey Public Library on Tuesday, August 20th at 6:00pm for the public at large to say goodbye to Shane.)

There weather was perfect—warm but not too hot with nary a mosquito to vex us.

Here are pictures from the party, starting with the setting.

Shane arrived, was duly surprised, and was greeted with a kiss and a laugh.

There was plenty of mingling.

As well as lots of good food.

And, of course, cake.

Farewell, Shane. You have made this town a better place and how you will be missed. Best of luck with the next phase of your life, and whatever comes next, I know you will shine, shine, shine.





53 thoughts on “Farewell to Shane, a Librarian Extraordinaire”

  1. Do you think he would like to come here? Our librarians are good but not that good!

  2. A good librarian is a gift, especially in small towns. I love your blog, as a displaced Mainer.

  3. A good librarian is a treasure…..Especially someone who pays attention to everyone and knows you so well he can recommend books! πŸ‘ŒπŸ˜€

  4. It’s always sad to see a friend move away. I wish him well in his new venture and I hope your new librarian fits in nicely in the community.
    I love Barbara Pym! I’ve read them all at least once.

  5. Have you read A Glass of Blessings? It’s a hoot. I’m sorry your losing Shane, but I bet he’s going to be great somewhere else. It is awfully nice to have someone know your taste and be able to recommend things. It’s what I miss about independent bookstores. Can’t get it at Barnes and Noble!

  6. I remember even my grade school librarians with great affection. I’m glad you had such a good one for so many years. He’ll surely be missed, but there may be an equal in your future. Is he planning to continue to work as a librarian?

  7. An excellent tribute. I was so relieved when I realised this was not going to be an obituary. You may know Jackie began her working life in a hospital library, and it was she who insisted I kept mine when we moved here

  8. What a treat to have someone like Shane working in your library Laurie and you will all have discovered so many new books through him. It sounds as if he loved going the extra mile and it’s so lovely to see him getting such a wonderful send off. We wish him well too on his next journey, he sounds like a wonderful person πŸ™‚πŸΎπŸ’–πŸΎ

  9. He sounds inspirational. How wonderful to have such passion for his work and to have made such an impact. Your community will surely miss him. A hard act to follow!

  10. This is a wonderful tribute! And he does sound like the world’s most perfect librarian. I wouldn’t want to be the next one in that job–hard act to follow!

  11. Hard to lose someone so attuned to the interests of library patrons. (I read all the Barbara Pym I could find at one point. Good for him to know you would like her!)

  12. Thanks for sharing the wonderful story about small town charm and a unique librarian!πŸ™‚ Loved how you described him as a bartender at a pub serving up books before you knew you wanted to read them.πŸ™‚

Comments are closed.