Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Kirkpatrick transitions from director to patron after 33 years

 

October 1, 2020

Kristie Kirkpatrick, seated, with Bill Gates, front, right, Nov. 2002 when Bill Gates and Gates Foundation officials visited the library in culmination of the Foundation's 5-year, $200 million dollar effort to bring Internet and public computing to all public libraries in the U.S. Whitman County libraries received over $93,000 in equipment and telecommunication solutions. Also pictured, left to right, are Judy Willcox, (3 Gates' officials) Clancy Pool, Marie Dymkoski, Neva Jean DeYoung, Cindy Wigen, Peggy Bryan, Kathy Carr (behind Gates), Jill Cocking, Gene Ellithorpe and James Morasch.

COLFAX-It was the year the compact disc video was unveiled, Aretha Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and "Walk Like an Egyptian" was the number one song of the year.

It was 1987, the year Margaret Thatcher won her third term as British Prime Minister and the year Kristie Kirkpatrick started as the branch manager at the Rosalia library.

"When past librarians, Elaine Zinke, Lana Feldman and Bernice Frick joined me for a four-generation photo, I knew working for the library was monumental," said Kirkpatrick of that first day. "It wasn't just another job."

Kirkpatrick retires this week, after 33 years with the Whitman County Library. As she prepared to become a full-time library patron, she recalled some highlights from her years at the library, in addition to that first day.

"My fondest memories revolve around the staff I've worked with and the community members I've met. Providing children's programs in Rosalia has always been a highlight. There is nothing so rewarding and fun as sharing my love of reading and learning with little ones. I so loved the warmth and hugs that came back my way," she said.

"I've especially enjoyed working at the fair, attending community events or meeting people out in the community. Putting faces to names I know from the patron database, Friends of the Library or donors is so special. I love the opportunity to tell people 'thank you' in person.

"There was a long period in the early '90s where I had to manually type in every item checked out for every branch due to the failure of the library's data transmission system. I felt like I personally knew what every person in our county read. When I'd finally meet them in person, I felt so connected knowing about their love of WWII, cooking or a good mystery."

During Kirkpatrick's tenure, she has worked with people she considers "local library legends," including director Margaret Clow and staffers Edie Ray and Dan Codd.

"My husband Al teased me for years that I was the 'new Margaret Clow.' I surpassed Margaret by 13 years, but could never match the unbelievable 44 years that Edie worked for the District," Kirkpatrick said. "I've also worked with so many talented and dedicated Board members from all around the county. The knowledge and commitment level they bring in support of our libraries is such an asset for the District."

As director, she has seen many wins for the library district.

"WCL has achieved so much during my time; award-winning services, improved library facilities and record public usage. Through it all, I've been honored to lead such a dedicated and talented team. Credit for any achievements really belongs with our staff, board, Friends of the Library and supportive community," she said.

"In my time as director, Whitman County residents have approved every election measure, supported every library building project and built The Center in Colfax through donations and volunteers. The notes of thanks and encouragement they send to our staff and to me are so heartwarming. People in Whitman County value education and libraries and I am so proud to have been a part of that."

After Oct. 1, the keys to the kingdom will be be out of Kirkpatrick's hands. She is positive about the library's fate going forward without her.

"I am thrilled to retire knowing the library is in such great hands with a wonderful Board, staff and capable new director Kylie Fullmer," she said. "With Coronavirus and now the Malden fire, library staff are working hard to adapt services and best meet people's needs. As these tragedies subside, I believe the economic hardships, educational needs and social isolation people feel will be intensified and Whitman County Library will have an even greater role to play."

Kirkpatrick joins her husband in retirement and they look forward to spending more time with friends, traveling and visiting their 17 grandchildren.

"Also, I am extremely excited to be a library patron, attending the classes and programs I missed all these years, having the staff show me how to use my 10-year old Kindle, and joining Friends of the Library," she added.

A public celebration is planned for Libey Gallery once the public can gather again.

 

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