Monday, August 3, 2009

A Few Notes on Dignity From Lynn Hawkins

Here at MPL we are big on kids, as they say. We have a consistently packed house for story times, terrific staff, an outstanding children's collection, and the very best original children's programming in the area—I daresay, in the state. And it is no accident. Dennis Heritage, Children's Services Manager, began his tenure with MPL on August 1, 1983. A Northeast Ohio native, he attended KSU on an Air Force ROTC scholarship, earning his Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, as a history major. Dennis's background as a children's services librarian includes experience at Kent Free Library and Kanawha County Public Library in Charleston, West Virginia. He also served as Assistant Head of Circulation at Kent Free Library. On his last date at Kent Free Library, the Director received a petition from 75 parents requesting that he stay at the Kent Free Library.
So why am I writing about this? Mr. Dennis will assume "unemployment with dignity," on November 1, 2009. Dennis finds the term "retirement" distasteful and prefers "unemployment with dignity." In our collective mind here at MPL, the dignity part kind of goes without saying, to wit: Employers of Dennis have noted "his sincere respect for each child, the refreshing dedication to the importance of books in a child's life and the top quality of his story times." A 1988 News Herald article deemed him "quite possibly the most patient man on the face of the earth", as they noted his task was "to teach children good listening habits, increase their vocabulary, and instill in their young minds an understanding of the importance and joys of reading." Some of Dennis's "firsts" at MPL include
1st regular story times for school age children (Book Break)1st evening story times1st story times for 2's (Toddler times)1st on staff Notary Public
He has written a children's book, which he will bring to press soon. He is a master of trivia, as well as an Abraham Lincoln aficionado. Most recently he has begun teaching Children's Literature at Lakeland Community College. On a personal note as his Director, I found him to be unfailingly loyal and dedicated to library services, and to the Mentor community and its children in particular. Through difficult budget years of reduced staffing and services, he was invariably among the very first to volunteer for unattractive shifts and in my six years with MPL I never once heard him complain. As he prepares to move on to realize his dreams to be a published children's author and travel to Europe, we know that Dennis has entertained and touched the lives of countless children over his 26 years with the library. As you are reading this, maybe you are one of them! He deserves a rest!
We will miss Mr. Dennis and hope to have him back for some "guest appearances." We are pleased to proclaim Wednesday, September 16, 2009 as "Mr. Dennis Day," and invite everyone to come by the library for a piece of cake and a farewell chat with Dennis. Dennis will spend the next two months turning the reins over to Amanda Densmore, who has been promoted to the position of Children's Services Manager. We are so pleased to have Amanda accept this position. Amanda is a very talented Reference Librarian at the Main Library and has a background in reference and reader's advisory. She is the author of the Mentor's Reader Blog. Amanda is enjoying her time in Children's Services and looks forward to meeting all of our parents and children! I predict that you will find her to be delightful and enthusiastic.
~Lynn Hawkins, Executive Director

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