Borough library director retires
Eldred ‘did an exceptional job’ overseeing facility
HOLLIDAYSBURG — While Janet Eldred is retiring as director of the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library, she won’t be shelving her love of books any time soon.
“I sit and read books all day,” she said of being a librarian. “And that is what I’m going to do the first three months after I retire.”
Eldred, who has spent 18 years at the library, will officially retire at the end of the day today. Her birthday is Saturday.
“She did an exceptional job overseeing the library, we will miss her,” said Joseph Keller, president of Keller Engineers Inc. Keller said he has known Eldred for 18 years and said she has always been dedicated, passionate and persistent in promoting the library.
“She is well liked and respected in the community and Blair County library system,” he added.
Eldred, who earlier this year received the Lemony Snicket Award for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity, was diagnosed with early-onset dementia in 2012, but has never let the diagnosis rule her life.
She started at the library when it was located on Clark Street, and moved with the library to its current location at 1 Furnace Road.
“She doesn’t remember her time at the previous library a block up from the post office, but she actually worked there longer than she has here,” her husband, Keith, said.
The library has been at its current location for eight years, but it still feels brand new, Janet said.
“I have memory issues so I don’t remember details, I just remember just how wonderful it was during these years,” she said.
Her work with the library included collection development, fundraising, grant writing and even landscaping outside the building.
She also oversaw the staff and volunteers.
“She is very good with the court-order volunteers, she is very sensitive,” Keith said.
She was also instrumental in getting Sheetz tables for the area outside the library.
“They are the same tables you would see outside of a Sheetz store. They usually have green umbrellas but they supplied them with blue at Janet’s request,” he said.
A little library has also been added outside the main building. It’s basically a small cupboard, open 24/7 where people can take a book and add books.
“With the little library, we are always open,” Janet Eldred said.
After her diagnosis of early-onset dementia, the couple spent a number of years trying to figure it out.
In 2017, Keith said his wife was struggling and she didn’t know if she could continue working.
“She offered her resignation at that point, and then realized that she was able to hang on and the board agreed to let her stay,” he said.
Janet credits the library staff for helping her continue with the work she loves.
“One of the things someone told me early on when I was getting all stressed about some things I couldn’t get done, is it is not up to you to do everything,” Janet said. “It is your job to see that everything gets done.”
“There’s alway constant little things to do around the library,” she said. “Thankfully I have people who help me do everything.”
“We are really going to miss Janet, she has been such a great leader and person to work for,” said Kim Eckard, who will work as the interim director until the library board hires a new person to fill Eldred’s shoes.
Janet Eldred is more than a director, she is a friend, Eckard said, noting that Eldred has accomplished a lot for the library.
“She just works so hard all the time, even at night she’s sending emails,” she said.
Pennie King, who works in the children’s room at the library, credits Eldred for helping her feel at home at the library.
“She has been a marvelous inspiration, and very gracious about helping me get acclimated here,” King said. “I will cherish my time here with her.”
Eldred said she will miss talking to everyone at the library, but as she embarks on the next chapter in her life, she and Keith are looking forward to spending time together.
The couple have been married 32 years this fall and have three married sons, three granddaughters and a dog.
In preparation for retirement, they’ve also created an attic library, where Eldred can read to her heart’s content.
Her own “little” library contains about 1,200 books, she said. In addition to reading, she enjoys genealogy and loves to collect photos and go through the papers and files related to her hobby.
“We hope she enjoys her retirement and her new library at home,” Eckard said.
Mirror Staff Writer Cati Keith can be reached at 814-946-7535.