A familiar face in the Youth Services area, Elaine O’Gara, known for her folk dancing expertise, will retire after 10 years of service. Her last day was February 25.
In her career here, she’s led more than 30 school tours through the building and facilitated countless programs, including dance programs, Merry Library Band performances and Baby Bookworms, her favorite.
“I really enjoy the really young ones. My favorite is Baby Bookworms, for 0-18 months, because you can really see a lot of the progress in their development.”
Elaine started during the construction of the new library building. The Youth Services office was operating out of the auditorium and some of the books and DVDs for kids were in storage and not available to the customers, she said.
The Topeka native has witnessed a tremendous transformation at the library, most recently the creation of habitats in the Youth Services area. A mural and 3-D elements will make the books on the shelves even more enticing through better organization, use of color and shapes and signage.
The mural is the initial part of the improvements scheduled to take place in Youth Services area over the next couple of years. And even though she won’t be on staff, Elaine will be around to see the project progress because she plans to volunteer at the library one or two days a week.
Also in retirement, she plans on spending more time gardening, traveling and attending folk dancing camps with her husband and dance partner, Bob Shapiro.
She says she’ll miss her co-workers and that they were like her second family.
“This department is really good. We all get along really well,” she said.
Elaine received her Master’s in Library Science from Syracuse University in December 2000.
Before arriving at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, Elaine was a travel writer and later worked for Brooklyn Public Library, focusing on special needs children.