I think there must be something about the air in libraries that helps preserve people. Maybe it’s the way all that book paper sucks the humidity out of the air that starts a mummification process while you are still living. The long careers that some of the employees working in this area have had is a testament to both the library environment and how much they loved their work.
Ruby Warnock worked as the head of circulation at the Caldwell County Public Library for over 40 years until her retirement a few years ago. Get this, at her retirement party the head librarian who originally hired her, Mrs. Margaret Whitman, was there to give a speech. In fact, the woman that originally trained her was there as well, and said she could remember the newly hired Ruby rolling her eyes in wonder at how long some of the women had been working there. “Golly, well I’ll never be here that long” the young “Rubester” had said.
Evelyn Rhodes worked as the Local History Librarian for nearly 50 years before retiring at the age of 90 from the Catawba County Public Library. She passed away in 1996 at the age of 96 and was still checking back in on the collection she helped create until the end.
Former Iredell County Library Director Violet K. Caudle celebrated her 82nd birthday on June 30. She came to Iredell County and became the library director on Sept. 15, 1959, replacing Nancy Davis who had left to become the Reference Librarian with Davidson College. Miss Caudle worked for the Iredell County Public Library for nearly 34 years before retiring in 1993.
Miss Caudle received her library degree at Appalachian State Teachers College and did graduate work at Emory University. She joined the Women’s Army Corp in 1945 and served as a librarian at various army posts including the Ernie Pyle Library in Japan. She had worked at the Greene County Public Library and Gaston County Public Library prior to coming to Statesville.
In 1967 the Iredell County Public Library was formed when the Statesville Public Library and the Iredell County Library merged. The merger had been talked about going back as far as 1959, but finally became a reality when Violet Caudle agreed to step down to the position of Assistant Director allowing Statesville Library director Flint Norwood to become the Iredell County Public Library’s director. Miss Caudle has said the decision as to who would be the director of the library had been one of the hold ups to the merger years ago.
Violet has a collection of scrapbooks covering the library that she has maintained for years. She recently let me borrow her library scrapbooks so I could make copies from them. She still lives only a couple of blocks from the new library building which is a far cry from the county library she first came to in the old Long Hospital building.
“When I first came we did not even have book cards to check books in and out by. When the steering wheel on the bookmobile came off I found the only tool we had was a broken pair of scissors. One of the first things I did was to buy a took kit” she said.
Joel Reese, Local History Librarian
Iredell County Public Library
This article appeared in the Statesville Record and Landmark as “Many employees spend lifetime working for library” on July 18, 2007