Card catalogs and encyclopedias have given way to bar codes and the Internet, but for Sarah Meisels, the mission of a public library is pretty much what it was when she first entered the business in 1966.
"I always tell people that we're doing the same thing we always did, just in a variety of different ways," Meisels said. "The formats have changed, our role hasn't."
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Meisels is retiring after 47 years of service to the Wheaton Public Library, the last 35 of which she spent as its director. The library hosted a special open house and reception in her honor Sunday, giving well-wishers a chance to chat with her.
Books -- the kind with covers and paper pages -- and periodicals were the key items offered by libraries when Meisels started her career. Today, the library features computer banks, CDs and DVDs and access to e-books. It also plays a more social/recreational role in the community, hosting events such as live concerts from time to time.
Meisels said she's proud of how the library has changed and adapted during the past few decades.
"It all starts with the librarians," she said. "Librarians realize they need to adapt to the times, and our staff has really done that here, even while technology moved so fast."
Meisels said she's also proud of the library's current building, which underwent a renovation starting in 2006. It's comfortable, elegant and state-of-the-art, she said.
"It was so exciting to see this renovation finished," she said. "People really seem to love it."
Wheaton Library Assistant Director Carolyn DeAre said the staff will miss Meisels.
"She was wonderful to work for, and she was looking ahead, wanting us to be on the forefront of what was happening with libraries," she said.
Meisels will be replaced as director by Betsy Adamowski, who starts Oct. 1. Adamowski was formerly the director of the Itasca Public Library.
Meisels said she is looking forward to relaxing in retirement, adding that the staff and patrons at the Wheaton library haven't seen the last of her.
"I still have my library card!" she said.