and was a 2018 recipient of the Peggy Hallisey Lifetime Achievement award.
Being newly retired myself, I decided to find out how and why folks still connect to MSLA and school libraries when retired. I reached out to Ann Perham, Valerie Diggs, and Kathy Lowe. All three of these women were extremely active in MSLA before retirement: all served as MSLA President at one point; their activities collectively included serving as area directors, secretary, chairs of committees (conference, standards, awards), Forum editor, and more.
Their accomplishments and hard work, past and present, can be intimidating for those retirees who cannot devote as much time as these women still do to the profession. But, all had advice on ways to contribute, even in small ways. “Put your hand up! Read the listserve and volunteer your assistance when members post questions,” says Ann. “Join the advocacy team, speak at Legislative Breakfasts, attend Library Legislative Day, help out with the Bookmark Contest, write for the Forum,” adds Kathy. For those willing to contribute more time, Valerie speaks of the need for mentors. She states, “I think there is definitely a need for retirees to mentor and assist new and even more seasoned school librarians with everything from collection development to special programming to managing different spaces in the library. For example: putting together book lists, supervising makerspaces and helping with all activities there, helping manage and promote special programming such as after-school clubs, book groups, crafts, Legos, puzzles, coding, and much more.”
Giving back to the profession has not kept any of these women from fully taking advantage of the newfound freedom that comes with retirement, however. Valerie says flexibility is the main benefit, as she takes off for one of her many RV trips across the country and works remotely from home. Kathy loves that she can now travel to places “that I only knew through books” and has “rediscovered her love for making music”, and Ann writes this in her email to me: “Right now, I have a cup of coffee, I’m watching Dr. Oz, keeping my eye on the baby monitor (while GRANDson naps) and catching up on my MSLA email . . . before I head out tomorrow for two weeks in the Caribbean. That pretty much sums up what I love about retirement – staying very busy!”
To get involved with MSLA, contact Kathy Lowe or a MSLA Board member. Contact information can be found on the website, https://www.maschoolibraries.org/.
Notes: Ann Perham retired from Needham High School. Valerie Diggs worked for the Chelmsford Public Schools from 1995-2015, ending her career there as Coordinator of Libraries K-12. She worked for 2 years at Lowell Catholic School until June, 2018. Kathy Lowe was the founding librarian for Boston Arts Academy & Fenway High School, 2 innovative pilot schools in the Boston Public Schools. Leslie Lomasson, author of this article, served as librarian at Amherst Regional High School and retired June, 2018.