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Ealy reflects on 24 years as 'The Library Lady'

"The Library Lady," Bonnie Ealy, helps students check out materials.

As Wadena-Deer Creek Public Schools celebrate National Library Week April 12-18, it's an appropriate time to recognize WDC's "Library Lady," Bonnie Ealy.

After 24 years, Ealy is retiring from WDC Elementary's media center -- or what used to be referred to as the library. She's known by many students simply -- and affectionately -- as "The Library Lady."

"It's fun to be downtown shopping and see the kids recognize me as 'The Library Lady,'" Ealy said with a chuckle. "Sometimes I think some of them think I live there, and are surprised to see me outside of the library."

Ealy started working as a library assistant in what she refers to as the "old junior high building" before it was torn down. She helped librarian Elroy Podratz maintain the junior high library. (The junior high building was located where the new addition of the elementary is today.)

"When I decided to go back to work in 1985, it was to help my sons go to college and pay for braces," Ealy explained. "But I liked my job so much that I just kept on going. It really has been a perfect job for me."

Since then, Ealy has assisted at the elementary and high school libraries, working with library staff such as Therese Pavek and Dorothy Platz at the high school, Cheryl Kellen at the elementary and most currently with Loni Niles.

What Ealy has enjoyed most about her job are the students as well as working in all areas of the media center. "Just being in the library is fun because the kids love to come and they have so many choices of books to read. They have over 17,000 books to choose from! There really is something for everyone."

Ealy especially enjoys the arrival of new books and materials because she gets a sneak peek at what's new. "I just wish I had the time to read them all," Ealy said.

With retirement just around the corner, Ealy has a long to-do list. She wants to spend more time fishing with her husband, Richard, as well as visiting her three grandchildren.

Then there are plans to do some traveling this winter in search of warmer climates. Ealy is also hoping to do more sewing, learn how to quilt, tend to her yard and garden, and find time to golf.

There's one more item on her to-do list that Ealy can't wait to do: "I hope to have time to read all the books I have waiting on my shelf!"