Liz Stella Retiring From Library 2008.07. 02

Written by David Green.

By HEATHER WHITEHOUSE

When Liz Stella was offered the job of director at Stair Public Library, she wasn’t even looking for a job.

“I was 50 years old at that time. My husband was going to retire in a few years,” she said. “They came after me. I really had no intention of going to work.”

Fortunately for the residents of Morenci, she accepted the offer.

Twenty years and two new buildings later, Stella stepped down this week.

“I don’t know where the time’s gone, but we’ve had a lot fun.”liz_stella.jpg

For some, imagining the job of a librarian conjures up images of a humorless woman in reading glasses, seated behind a massive desk, eyes on a book and ears on the alert for noisy patrons deserving of a “SHHH!” However, anyone who believes this is an accurate description of a Stair librarian hasn’t been paying attention.

A motivating force

As director, Stella set the tone for an exciting, active library and library community. For almost 10 years she (with the help of her husband, Giovanni) led a troupe of volunteers in a massive fund-raising effort to garner the roughly $400,000 needed to build a new library.

The primary fund-raiser was the Wakefield Park concession stand, where the Stellas and Friends of Stair Public Library gave up their summer weekends for years, serving hungry ball players. The concession stand, along with other fund-raisers (e.g. magnet sales, penny drives, silent auctions), raised approximately $40,000 over seven years. The remaining funds came from donations and grants, many of which required a record of consistent volunteer support for the building project as a condition of receipt.

“We had a lot of diligent, loyal volunteers,” Stella said. “The whole community made this happen.”

The new Stair Public Library, more than three times its original size, was completed in 1997. A few years later, the old library was fully remodeled into an annex and made barrier-free by leveling the multi-floor, mezzanine design. Due largely to a generous donation by the Fay Foundation, the aptly named “Liz Stella Annex,” opened to the public in 2003.

A generous heart

Though Stella will no doubt be remembered by the city for her tireless efforts in making these buildings a reality, library patrons will remember her kindness and generosity on a day-to-day basis.  Always friendly, always welcoming and always accommodating, Stella truly made the library the heart of the community.

She will be missed for her spontaneous exclamations of, “Isn’t this fun?” as she helped patrons find just the right information. She will be missed for her ingenuity and willingness to tackle any craft, art or holiday project (though rumor has it, the Christmas Fantasy Village will continue). She will be missed for her way of making every patron feel important and every request seemingly a delight. She will be missed for her obliging gentility—to everyone aged 5 to 85.

The Big Send-Off

A special library open house is planned in honor of Stella’s retirement Saturday, July 12, at 6:30 p.m. Entertainment will begin at approximately 6:45 p.m. with cake and other refreshments served after the event. The public is welcome to join in the celebration and in honoring Stella and her 20-year contribution to the City of Morenci.

 

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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