She had been sharing her love of reading with her young son, and then thought about sharing that love with other children. That was the initial enticement that drew veteran children’s librarian Hillary Steighner to apply for the children’s librarian position with the Hood River County Library back in 1987.
Since then, Steighner has served children of our county with that love of books, weathering the interim closure of the library and allowing her to assist in its triumphant return through community support.
Friday, Aug. 17, will mark the end of Steighner’s current career, but not her love of the written word.
A celebration, to be held in the children’s library, will bring help recognize Steighner’s service and allow her to, as she said, “Go out with an Aargh!”
The growl is a reference to the pirate-themed event beginning at 2 p.m., which will provide for a child-focused celebration, featuring a treasure hunt, ice cream cones and live pirate musicians who will encourage some hearty sing-alongs.
The Bilgerats and the Pyrettes will be the featured musical minstrels, and everyone will have a chance for prizes if they dress up in costume.
For Steighner, the life-long dedication to the library is one she plans to treasure forever.
“One of the best days of my time here was the day the library reopened after it had been closed for a year. The children streamed down the stairs on that day. Those books, which had been sitting unused for a year, were snapped off the shelves and it was wonderful,” said Steighner.
When asked how the library remains relevant in this day of Internet-based information, Steighner said, “It just opens up a whole world for everyone. The information — the books — it all teaches us how to get into someone else’s situation. This is so important for kids to be exposed to.
“It is particularly important for those who don’t have access. It is part of how we can create success for those kids.
“Really, it is the heart of our democracy and our community.”
Never afraid of taking on new ideas, Steighner has found it interesting and exciting to take on the changes and challenges of every new decade, including the new technologies.
“I started out hand-typing every catalogue card. We now have all of these electronic resources. We are about serving people in the way that is appropriate for whatever time we are in.
“Mostly, I am grateful for the wonderful community here ... working closely with the staff — they have always been really great people. I’m just so grateful for the opportunity to work here for so many years.”
Steighner knows that this will not be the end of her relationship with the library and staff.
“I plan on returning regularly as a patron.”
Stepping into Steighner’s shoes, Jana Hannigan plans to carry on the warm, welcoming and enthusiastic leadership of the children’s library for years to come.
An Aug. 17 pirate-themed party, 2-3 p.m. is open to celebrate the end of summer reading and Steighner’s departure.
Families and f riends are invited to drop anchor in costume and enjoy the pirate snacks.
Upon retirement Steighner hopes to revisit a favorite pastime, now that she will have a bit more free time. Look for her in one of the many, comfy reading areas inside the welcoming facility she helped to shepherd.