In addition to changes coming as part of the planned $1.5 million renovation set for later this year, the Sherman Public Library will also soon experience another change — the retirement of longtime Library Services Administrator Jacqueline Banfield.
“I have a great nephew who is in Denton and I want to spend more time with him, and I’ve put in 40 years and I think it’s just a good time to do it,” Banfield said of her reason for deciding it was time to step away.
Banfield, who reached 40 years with the library in May of last year, has been in charge of the city’s library since February 2000 and served as an assistant director and was in charge of the reference department and local history before that.
“I started out before computers and now technology changes so fast I can’t keep up with it,” she said. “A lot of times, the outside world, as far as we consider it from the library point of view, changes faster than we do.”
From the city manager’s point of view, Banfield definitely earned her right to move on at the end of the month.
“Jacqueline’s career with the City of Sherman has been a testament to the type of impact someone can have when they commit themselves to public service,” City Manager Robby Hefton said via email. “Her decades-long contributions to this city and its citizens are immeasurable, and we owe her a debt of gratitude as she heads into her very, very well-earned retirement.”
Banfield was honored by the city during a recent Sherman City Council meeting, with Mayor David Plyler presenting her with a plaque for her years of service.
“It’s impossible to know how many children’s lives you made a difference in over the years,” Plyler said to Banfield. “While we can’t possible know all the inputs, we definitely know the output you’ve achieved for 40-plus years. You made the Sherman Library into one of the most memorable, respected and loved institutions in our city. And your legacy extends infinitely beyond the walls of that facility.”
Library Services Supervisor MeLissa Eason, who will serve as the library’s next administrator, said Banfield has been a wonderful mentor during the years they’ve worked together.
“I am going to miss working with her,” Eason said. “I appreciate her expertise and advice. She empowers her employees to make decisions, but is available to help wherever needed. Employees stay for a long time and I think that does say something about the workplace culture here.”
During the council meeting, Director of Public Services Steve Ayers told the council Banfield has helped shape the city during her time at the library.
“The truth is our world would be a lot better place with a lot more Jackies,” Ayers said. “I know words are cheap, but they’re sincere and we could never extend enough gratitude as a city and a community. We’re going to miss her greatly. I hope you go into your retirement knowing you made a difference.”
Banfield had her own person to thank for her career as a librarian, noting she initially earned a teaching degree, but it was her mother who suggested she get a master’s degree in library science 43 years ago.
“So I owe a lot to her for picking the right profession for me to go into,” Banfield said, explaining the work has been very rewarding. “You meet lots of people, you work with lots of great people. And you get to help people find authors, information, help people do reference and research (work). Since I was in charge of local history and geneology, and I’m really interested in that myself, it was always great fun to help somebody find their connections to their family.”
Work on the renovations planned for the library — which will include a new roof, fire alarm system, restroom layout, furniture and shelving, as well as a new mechanical system for the entire building — is expected to get underway in April. As part of the renovations, the library is expected to reduce its book collection from approximately 100,000 to somewhere in the range of 40,000 to 50,000. The renovation work is expected to last about one year.
Banfield said she will definitely be back to see the library once the work is completed, and while she’ll miss seeing the crews take the library “apart and put it back together again,” right now she’s looking forward to retirement.
“I’ll miss the people I work with,” Banfield said. “I’ll miss coming in and seeing the folks that have come in for years.”
Those folks and the entire community will have a chance to say goodbye to Banfield on Friday as the library will hold a retirement party for her from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in its Hope Waller Community Room.