What began as a volunteer job at Westview Elementary School’s cafeteria turned into a decades-long career in the school library.
Evelyn Raabe, library assistant, is retiring after 40 and a half years of story times and helping students learn to love the written word.
“I never once dreaded getting up,” she said about her job. “It’s like my home. I always loved it. I loved the kids.”
And the kids loved her. The students wrote her letters for her retirement, 200 in all. She’s already read about three quarters of them.
Raabe was an active member of Westview’s Parent Teacher Association. She volunteered in the school lunch room for two years before she moved over to the library as an aide, where she put books away on their shelves three days a week. When the principal at the time asked the librarian about recommendations for a paying position, Raabe’s name came up. She was hired Jan. 15, 1970.
“I’ve gone through eight principals,” she said. “I’ve been through every principal Westview has had.”
At one point, Raabe’s only responsibilities were to check out the books and shelve them. When the librarian position was eliminated, Raabe took on all the duties in the library. On top of that, she still worked in the lunchroom making up tickets for meals after collecting students’ money, subbed in the office at lunchtime and coordinated the volunteers in education.
The library operated differently when she started. It was originally where the main office is now located. Checking out a book required filling out the card in the back of a book. Now the system is all computerized.
But some things stay the same.
“I love the little kindergarteners when they come in here, eyes are just so wide because of all the books around,” she said. “They get so excited when they come in here. It doesn’t take long until they’re asking me to take out the ‘Magic Tree House’ books.”
The “Junie B. Jones” series, picture books by Jan Brett and the “I Spy” books are the popular books. The “Where’s Waldo?” books are worn out, she said.
When it comes time for story time, Raabe said she likes fairy tales. There are enough different versions of each one to keep the students interested, she said. One of her favorites is “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs,” which tells the familiar story from the wolf’s point of view.
Raabe plans to take it easy for about a year, she said. After that, she may move to Cincinnati to be closer to her kids.
“I feel kind of sad leaving, but there comes a time in your life you have to say goodbye,” she said.
Contact Bryan Wroten at firstname.lastname@example.org