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Janet Pelley closing the book on a long career at the Truro library

After 41 years at the library, Janet Pelley is retiring. She hopes to take up tai chi, which she practised in the past, again.
After 41 years at the library, Janet Pelley is retiring. She hopes to take up tai chi, which she practised in the past, again. - Lynn Curwin

TRURO, N.S. – When Janet Pelley started working at the Truro library record albums were a new addition to their collection.

After 41 years among the bookshelves Pelley has decided to retire, and today is her final day.

“October 5, 1976, was my first day, and at that time I was a timid, newly minted librarian, with dark brown hair,” she recalled. “I was 25 years old.”

Pelley volunteered at her school library while growing up in Montreal, and decided a library would be a great place to work. She got her BA at McGill and her Masters in Library Science from the University of Toronto before applying for the job in Truro.

Her father was from Halifax and her parents had moved to Bedford while she was in university, so she had connections to Nova Scotia.

She started as a bookmobile/branch librarian, then became technical services librarian, assistant chief librarian, and, in 1993, became library director.

“When I first came we had three branches, two bookmobiles and a card catalogue,” said Pelly. “Everything was manual and labour intensive. We had to date-stamp books on the back, write the card number on the book card and file it.

“I always focused on studies and work and I’ve been blessed with work I enjoy. The members of staff are phenomenal. I couldn’t ask for better colleagues. They’re lovely people who care about what they do.”

Special memories include the creation of the Elmsdale library and the move to its present location, the opening of the new Tatamagouche library and having the Mount Uniacke library join the system.

“The most rewarding experience was the opening of the new building in Truro,” she said. “I wanted to be here to see that project through.

“Two of the most poignant memories are the last run of the bookmobile, which took place on Dec. 23, 2003 (with the last stop being the Great Village Wilsons Gas Stop), and the official closing of the previous library. It was only eight years old when I arrived.”

She said the library has always been a place where people gather, and with the increased space there are many more opportunities to take part in things.

“Books are still our core service but people learn in many ways. We’re providing people with tools they need to learn for a lifetime.”

Pelley’s mother still lives in the area so she will spend time with her and do more recreational reading. She also hopes to resume tai chi, which she took part in for eight years, do some decluttering at home, and do a little travelling.

“I love the ocean and love to beachcomb,” she said. “I’ll do some day trips around Nova Scotia, and maybe further afield.”

She’ll probably still be seen at the library in the future, borrowing books and taking part in programs.

“I’d really like to thank everyone for their support over the years,” she added, beginning to choke up with emotion. “I’m very glad I moved to Truro those decades ago. It’s been good to me and I’ve seen a lot of great changes in the town. I’m looking forward to living here in my retirement.”

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