And that’s how Diane Houston wanted it on December 31, her last day at the helm.
But nearly 32 years after she first stepped foot into the building, January 13 was proclaimed “Diane Houston Day” by Maryville Mayor Chad Jackson in a small ceremony at the library.
Visibly emotional, Houston described herself – on her very own day – as just a girl who read all her life.
“She didn’t know what she wanted to do,” Houston said, speaking of herself. “But when she walked in the door of this library, she fell in love.”
Houston began as a part-time worker and children’s librarian in January 1977. She took over as director two and a half years later.
Over the years, she was influential in the increased participation of Story Hour, the expansion and remodeling of the building, the creation of the Second Century Library Endowment Fund Foundation and numerous additions and improvements to technology, materials and programming.
Library Board President Marilyn Rhea said it has been Houston’s tireless work and vision that has enabled the library to grow.
“For the 28 years I have lived in Maryville, I’ve so enjoyed everything about the Maryville Public Library,” Rhea said. “But it’s only been in the last two years since I’ve been on the Board of Trustees that I’ve come to know Diane Houston as the soul of that facility.”
Although she has retired as director, Houston said she will still be around, as she continues to oversee the nearly completed Robb Fine Arts Room. She will also work two mornings a week at the front desk for the next few months, plans to help create a coffee shop in the building and will serve as secretary of the foundation.
But she will definitely miss it.
“After 30 years of your life being structured that way, I will miss that sameness,” Houston said. “I love this building and this place. I’ve always loved getting people together with books, so I will miss that whole library environment and being here.”