“Now I guess I have to pay my fines,” Mary Jane Santos said to laughter on Wednesday at her retirement open house, while surrounded by supporters and patrons, plus her children and grandchildren.
During her 31-year career at the Delaware County District Library, Santos started as a volunteer and spent the last nine years as its director.
“I was very fortunate that in my career, every time I felt the need to change or move, a job opened here at the library,” she said. “I was able to do my whole career here, continue to advance and fulfill my professional curiosity, but not have to leave the city of Delaware, because I really do love living here.”
“Mary Jane Santos’ long career in library services will be remembered as evolving with the demands of library patrons,” Delaware Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle read as part of a proclamation. “Santos transformed the district library into a vibrant center of activities for residents and visitors, providing an inviting environment that encourages reading, learning, community discussion and supporting lifelong discovery.”
Riggle recalled that Santos, who also served on City Council from 2001 to 2006, gave her helpful advice on politics. Santos has also served with the Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce, Lions and Rotary clubs.
Commissioner Barb Lewis said Santos has left of legacy of leadership and the love of reading.
“I was reading your last column (in The Gazette), and I thought, this is typical Mary Jane,” Lewis said. “Does she talk about herself? No, she made sure everybody knew how to get their questions answered.”
County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien said that when she first came to Delaware, she kept running into Santos and realized she was someone important.
“You spent your life around books, and the fact you shared that with everyone you know, I can’t imagine anything more wonderful,” O’Brien said.
“You’ve literally defined what it means to be a member of your professional organization,” said Ohio Library Council Director Doug Evans. Santos was named OLC librarian of the year in 2014.
Beverly Cain, state librarian of Ohio, read a resolution recognizing Santos for “leading the library through a period of unprecedented achievement and growth” and giving “unsparingly of her time, energy and knowledge to develop and support partnerships among Ohio’s libraries.”
Stella Dickman of the Friends of the Library joked that Santos could help with this weekend’s bargain book fairs.
Santos was praised by Michael Butler, vice president of the library board of directors, for her dedication to both the library and the community.
“She doesn’t miss a beat,” Butler said. “The community is going to miss Mary Jane because of her commitment to both sides of the fence.”
Neil Neidhardt, president of the library board of directors, gave a tongue-in-cheek evaluation of Santos, noting that he hadn’t seen her doing stereotypical librarian duties because she was busy expanding the library’s outreach.
In closing this chapter of her life, Santos had the last word.
“It’s been my delight to be out in the community, and make sure everybody knows how important the library is to the culture of Delaware city and county,” Santos said. “While I’m going to be gone from my office, I won’t be gone from Delaware.”