The Stayton Public Library added space, but now will lose its librarian.
“My whole career has been building this building,” said Pam Pugsley, who retires in January after six years of service to the library.
Pugsley won’t be entirely missing from the library stacks. She plans to still work part-time “in the back room.”
Her love of books stemmed from her days of volunteering at the public library in Aromas, Calif., when her son was 3. He’s now 37.
“I read stories to the little tots,” Pugsley said. “Then I started substituting for the librarian when she was sick or on vacation. I realized I really loved it there.”
So when the Aromas librarian retired a year after Pugsley started volunteering, Pugsley applied and got the job.
The library had about 1,000 square feet, small with a rotating collection.
“I had to stamp a lot of cards with a rubber pencil,” she said, adding as she pounded due dates in the books, her love for them grew.
When her husband retired, she went to work full-time at the Monterey County library headquarters in Salinas.
“There I learned a lot about running a big library district,” she said. “It wasn’t open to the public and I learned a lot about collection development and other things.”
When her husband wanted to move to Oregon, Pugsley dragged her heels.
“But once I got up here, I loved it,” she said. “I wouldn’t go back to California now.”
The family settled in Bend, and to pass the time, Pugsley took courses at Central Oregon Community College. An assistant director/children’s librarian position opened in nearby Prineville and Pugsley commuted from Bend for the next 14 years for the job.
“After my son graduated from high school, we moved to Prineville,” she said.
Pugsley also drew experience in raising funds and building facilities from a couple of committees that she served on. To research for the building of a new high school, she traveled around the state.
“Because of my expertise, I looked at libraries,” she said. When she first encountered Stayton’s library, she said, “I really loved it.”
Once Prineville’s high school got a facelift, its library came next.
“Again, I went to look at different libraries around the state,” she said. “And again I came to Stayton and thought, ‘This is a great library!’ I had seen this library at least three times in my life before I had a chance to apply for a job here.”
After the Pugsleys’ son married, she saw a job opening for a Stayton’s librarian. She applied, and the rest is history.
Two days on the job, she received a call from Dave Karr, who asked, “Well, are you ready to start working toward a new library addition?”
Today, Stayton Library’s new wing stands in testimony to lots of hard work and community support. Almost $3 million was raised for the library extension and an endowment to keep it going.
“I am especially thankful for the Library Foundation for this beautiful building and Dave Karr and Dave Kinney for making it happen,” Pugsley wrote in a Thanksgiving letter to library patrons. Her thanks also went to: “Our Friends of the Library, especially president Carol Tabor, who works unceasingly for the library; my wonderful library staff who finish my sentences for me; Mark, Diane and Emily Pearson who are helping to make the used bookstore in town a reality; all the fabulous volunteers who come weekly to put in their shift, shelving, covering books, cataloging and making labels; all the people who willingly buy books to fill in certain areas of our collection; our new volunteers who are putting on an evening storytime and a morning music program for tots; and for our city administrator, who gives us support and encouragement, but leaves me along to do my job!”
“I’ve been working since I was 17, taking just seven years off when my son was born,” she shared. “I’ve worked in libraries for 29 years, from a small one-room building where I could point out books on the shelves to patrons from my desk to this lovely building, which I love with all my heart.”
Pugsley will stay in Stayton, stay at home and “enjoy my husband.” She plans to spend some time reading the many books she got to handle during her reign as librarian.
“I look forward to not having to go to night meetings,” she said, chuckling.
“I have a wonderful staff,” she said as to the search for her replacement. “Anyone who works here will be lucky to have them.”
Pugsley is also grateful to the Stayton community for its acceptance of an out-of-towner.
“It’s a great place to live and to be part of the community,” she said enthusiastically. “I’ve really enjoyed my time here.”
Pugsley upholds the library’s vision to be: open and accessible to people of every age and economic background; a warm, welcoming retreat for children and families; an enticement to individuals to explore new ideas and learn through reading; a place that provides all patrons with free access to the Internet and online materials; and a community gathering place.
The Stayton Public Library serves some 24,000 patrons in Stayton, Sublimity and surrounding rural areas in Marion and Linn counties.