Kathy Leek closes the book on her library career

By Robin McCormick
Devlin Correspondent

Kathy Leek, the Emo librarian/CEO turned the page to a new chapter in her life, when she retired on May 21, after being employed at the Emo Public Library for 28 years.

Kathy is 58, and has many fond memories of her years at the library. She started out as a casual librarian, which became a full time position. When Shirley Shepard retired six years ago, Kathy applied and was chosen the best suited for the position. Kathy shared with me that the library was built in 1967 and holds the prestigious title of a Centennial Building.

Kathy has seen many changes over her years employed at the library. The changes started on 2007 with automation, which started what flourished to many, many changes.

Prior to that, everything was done manually. I’m sure we all remember the little index cards. As automation continued e-books and online books became more popular. Kathy was able to adapt to the changes. However, changes still continue with social media becoming more popular. Kathy sighed as he said she’s really not interested in using that avenue for librarian skills which actually made it a little easier to retire.

When asked some of the struggles that the Library struggled with over her years of employment at the library she stated, “there was always trouble getting funding to provide patrons the material and books they desired. Kathy pointed out this wasn’t only a Northwestern Ontario struggle but all of our province struggled with this. The Emo library also provides service to Chapple, LaVallee, and Stratton. A service they do provide is Interlibrary Loan which allows books to be loaned from all over northwestern Ontario.

Some of Kathy’s most treasured memories and rewards include the friendship she made with Shirley Shepard. They started out with a working relationship and became very good friends. Also, Kathy thoroughly enjoyed the youth that would be hired; it was often their first place of employment. She watched them gain confidence, skills in the operating of a library and become more confident in themselves.

When Covid forced the library to make changes, curbside pick up was made available to all library patrons. The library has tried to keep up services as Kathy and her staff have always tried to do their best for patrons. The most difficult part of Covid for Kathy was not interacting with her patrons. Which, looking back at the absence of patrons in her life, makes retirement a little easier.

On her final day of her library career Kathy was presented with flowers and gift card. – Submitted photo

Kathy’s husband Albert has been retired for seven years. The couple are in the process of selling their home in Emo. They are having a new home build in Ste. Genevieve, Manitoba. The cement is being poured this week, and they are hoping all the building goes smoothly. Their home is in the country.

Kathy and Albert will be living near their daughter Julia, her husband and their three children, Ethan, Kaitlyn, and Zachary. Their son Christopher also lives in the area of their new home. Their son Anthony resides and teaches for Seven Generations in Kenora.

Kathy and her husband are looking forward to spending more time with family and grandchildren. Travel is something they hope to do, and like all of us they are hoping for Covid to go away and allow travel.

Kathy informed me that Nick Donaldson will be taking over her librarian/CEO position. Nick comes with experience from the Fort Frances Library.

When asked her words of wisdom, Kathy – with a genuine and caring voice – replied, “I hope I was able to build on the good work Shirley had done, and now I hope Nick is able to build and yet again have a library that flourishes in our community.”

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