MIAMI COUNTY — Laura Girolamo was the Google before Google was a household name.
The Troy-Miami County Public Library reference librarian recently celebrated 29 years of service as she quietly retired last month.
“It’s a new chapter — that’s how I look at it,” said Girolamo, who spent the last 17 years manning the library’s information desk. “It’s the start of something new.”
Girolamo had to think back over the years of the most unusual questions she’s fielded at the information desk.
“It’s funny because they don’t always ask the question of what they are looking for,” she said with a laugh. “I have to work around it and see exactly what they are looking for. Oh, a lot of medical questions and they don’t want to admit that maybe it’s for them and then you have to know a little bit more to steer them in the right direction.”
Girolamo laughed as she recalled some of the oddities found between the pages.
“We’ve found odd things in books. There was bacon in a book we found in a shelf — they used it as a bookmark — we have had that,” she said.
Girolamo said she started working at the library in 1988, two years after moving from the Cleveland area.
“I had worked at a law library in San Francisco and I liked that, so it was just a natural progression to come here,” she said. “It’s changed a lot, we were not on computer. The circulation was smaller and the Internet was not here — so that’s a big difference.”
Girolamo said she enjoyed helping people with technology and finding information and being an ear to the community.
“A lot of times, people are just lonely or elderly and need someone to care about them and talk to them — that’s what I liked about my job. There are a lot of relationships built over the years,” Girolamo shared.
Girolamo helped many community members navigate the surge in the latest hand-held technology and guided many patrons on how to use E-readers and tablets to access books, movies and other media.
“That was huge and it still continues. The technology continues, and grows and changes … so you have to keep up and keep trying and some people, it’s a struggle for them, so you have to make it so they understand,” she shared.
Girolamo encouraged patrons to bring in their devices so they could learn together about how to access and learn how to “stay on top of it” in the technology world.
Girolamo said she enjoyed helping people over the years, whether it was a research question or just serving as a sounding board.
“I think helping people is really important and I hope that continues and that libraries don’t ever lose that. Some say, ‘Oh, libraries are dull,’ but I think the main purpose of a library is to help the public find the information they need, keep abreast of technology,” she said.
Girolamo said she’ll miss the relationships she’s made over the years, but is looking forward to the freedom of retirement. She plans on spending more time with her grandchildren and making time for activities such as yoga and exercising.
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