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Librarian leaving for Lone Star State

Addison Library Director Michele Presley reads to little residents Evelyn Rippetoe, 3, and Ben Covert, 5. Presley is leaving April 29 and heading to Texas. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
March 16, 2011 - It was horses that brought Michele Presley to the Addison Township Public Library almost 16 years ago and it's horses that are taking her away next month.

Friday, April 29 will be Presley's last day as director of the small rural library that circulated an impressive 34,701 items last year and serves more than 2,000 library-card holders.

She's moving to Jacksonville, Texas to be with her husband of 36 years, Bill, and continue raising her beloved miniature horses, of which she has 21, in the wide open spaces of the Lone Star State.

"It's bittersweet because I really like this place and I love this job," Presley said. "But I'm looking forward to the warm weather."

Her husband's been working and living in Texas since July 2008. The only reason she didn't join him back then was because their property there lacked the necessary fencing and shelters for her miniature horses.

"Now, they're up, so it's time to move on," said Presley, who lives in Brandon Township.

Ironically, it was Presley's horses that originally brought her to the Addison library back in September 1995.

Responding to an advertisement she saw in the Leader, Presley took a 10-hour-per-week job there to pay for grain and hay.

Next thing you know, she became the director in 1999 and has loved every minute of the challenging job.

"This isn't just an administrative job," she explained. "It really is hands-on. You do everything. You shovel the snow if you have to. If the carpet needs to be vacuumed because somebody made a big mess, you do it. If the shelves need to be straightened, you straighten them.

"It's not just sitting at a desk, shuffling papers, going to meetings and doing financial statements. That's all part of it, but it really is a jack-of-all-trades position. That's what makes it fun. It's never boring."

When asked what she'll miss most about the library, Presley replied, "I will miss the people, especially my kids. My favorite part of the job has been children's services. I have truly enjoyed that the most. That's my love. It's been great fun to watch my kids grow up over the past 10-11 years."

Looking back over her career at the library, Presley is proudest of "the degree of service that we provide to people being a small library."

"It's the can-do attitude," she explained "We might not have (an item) in this building because we can't house it here (due to space constraints), but we can get it for you or we will at least try. I think it's kind of a unique attitude to have."

Presley's also proud the library was able to acquire nearly 4 acres of land, free of charge, between Milmine Rd. and Cantley St. Officials and library supporters are planning to someday build a new library on this site.

As she looks toward the Addison library's future, Presley's both optimistic and realistic. She believes the facility's coming move to the Lakeville Towne Square (see story on Page 3) will give the library additional space and increased visibility, both of which will help raise public awareness about it.

"It's an exciting time for the library with them moving over to the strip mall," she said. "I wish I was going to be here to see it through, but I just can't stay that long."

Financially, she believes things will be "rough" for the library "for a while" due to the added expense of the new facility, decreased property tax revenues and cuts in state aid.

But Presley doesn't doubt for a second that the library can and will surmount its funding obstacles.

"I think there are ways around it," she said. "I think there are ways, if you get creative, that you can maintain the level of service that (people are) used to, even with decreasing funds. I think the board, the staff and the new director will have to rethink how things are done, how they're financed and get a little creative."

In the end, she hopes everyone connected with the library will remember what's most important and let that guide their way.

"I think as long as you remain focused on the fact that this is a small town library with a small town, friendly attitude, I think it will do well," Presley said.

Presley is looking for some type of part-time library position in Texas.

"I will find something because I have to support my little horse habit," she said. "I love working in libraries, I really do."

However, she's "done with director jobs." Although she doesn't mind adults, she would prefer a library position that involves working with children exclusively.

"I really do like the kids, especially those little ones," Presley said.

No matter what library she ends up working at in Texas, Presley knows it will never be as special as her little corner of Addison.

"I have nothing but fond memories of working in this library," she said. "I've learned a tremendous amount and it really has been a privilege to be here. I can't think of a better place to work, I really can't. It really is a marvelous little place. I wish everyone well here, I really do."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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