Click on read more to see the entire article. The following article was published in the Lakeside Ledger. The original can be seen here.
The Woman Behind the Library
Sue Seamans Retires as Director of Falconer Library
“Why Not Read?”
By Ann-Marie Gariepy
I read a lot. And I mean A LOT. As most voracious readers and I can attest to, there is someone who sparked in us and planted the seed of the joy of reading. And then like a gardener, we cultivated, fed and nurtured that joy until it grew into something much bigger than ourselves.
Reading became more than just words on pages bound in a book. It was a relationship earthed in a shared love of stories, education and the ability to go anywhere you wanted in the world and beyond, just by turning the pages. I refer to these extraordinary people as “Touchstones”, exemplar guides, sharing in the benchmarks of your reading careers. From picture book and first readers to the great classics and beyond, these remarkable people are with you every step of the way. Those to whom I bestow such praise and respect upon are our local Librarians.
I recently had the pleasure of a reunion with my Touchstone after nearly 30 years. There were tears and hugs and reminiscing. Growing up in a small town, the library directly behind my house, I spent countless hours rummaging, reading and checking out piles of books to take home. It was the first place I was allowed to go on my own. I paid nearly a daily visit to a place that became a sort of second home to me.
In Falconer, NY Sue Seamans filled that role for the Falconer Public Library for 44 years. Quietly retiring from the place where she connected with so many people was emotional for Sue. I could hear it in her voice when we spoke at length about her time as Director at the library.
Previously a teacher in Brocton, NY and a librarian there as well, a flip of a coin sealed the move of Sue and her husband to Falconer and changed her life forever. The little library, which was founded in the early 1900’s by the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, grew immeasurably over the years.
The Falconer Public Library is unique in that it is housed and funded by the government and library patrons through grants, donations and post humus gifts. Because of this designation no private fund raising events can be had. With the wonderful repertoire she and her staff had with the community of Falconer Sue was able to make connections with people who believed in growth.
The first library in the area to have a fax machine and be fully air conditioned was exciting. In 1989 the library began hosting band concerts in the town, which have always been well attended. The library is also home to a rich local Historian room. Reading Club’s were formed. These “Stellar Moments” as they were titled by Sue were just a part of setting and attaining “proactive and realistic” objectives for the library’s community outreach.
“Helping people beyond what you would normally do.” was the goal she said. From helping a patron find their niche in the library world to being the stable, soft spot for the little girl who’s parents were going through a divorce- all the familiar faces at the Falconer Library welcome all through their doors.
“The library is full of great book and great people and holds a wonderful sense of community, integrity and history”, relayed Sue. The Falconer library was listed as one of the Top Libraries in the United States in 2000 and having their director as one of only 28 honored Librarians in the United States in 2004.
“Things just started changing (for the better)” she commented. People started coming to the library in droves. Circulation increased. Things were better than ever and continue to be moving onward and upward. She taught her staff to represent themselves well and use their tongues kindly (with patrons). So why would she want to leave?
“It was time,” she said with such a compassionate tone in her voice. “You have to live your life everyday.”
And that is exactly what she is doing. Not stepping completely away from her need to provide the community with books on which to feast, she currently holds the position of Outreach Coordinator for the library. With a trunk full of books she refers to herself as “Sugar Plum Deliveries” and facilitates book borrowing at adult day centers, assisted living communities and residential campuses locally.
“The Falconer Library is a gem and a gift to many.” Sue said thoughtfully as we wrapped up our conversation. I can say with utmost certainty after meeting her that in the eyes of the community of Falconer, it is she that is the gem.
The Falconer Library was listed as one of the Top Libraries in the United States in 2000 and having their director (Sue Seamans, pictured above) as one of only 28 honored Librarians in the United States in 2004.