Connie Jones sits at her desk staring at her computer screen. Her office is open; glass walls letting her overlook the second floor of the library. Her office is surrounded by children’s and young adult literature. These are books that education students use for their class projects, clinicals and student-teaching experiences. A student walks in and sits at a desk outside and starts working on her project. Without a second thought, Jones hops out of her office and checks in.
“[I love] helping the students that I see who have a real passion for the literature and then go on to teach or become librarians and be able to use that passion,” Jones said. “It’s always lots of fun to help students find books that are perfect for what they need or books they just can’t put down.”
Jones has been the Librarian in the Curriculum center since she came here in 2000. After 16 years of dedicating herself to literature and education, Jones will be taking the early retirement for next year.
“Well, I was planning to retire at this time,” Jones said. “We have grandchildren who live in Texas and Pittsburgh and my mother just moved up here from Nebraska last fall … I can spend more time with them.”
Jones also has a stash of fabric for quilting that she is “dying to get into.” She has been quilting for the last 15 years and after buying a decent sewing machine and taking some classes, she can’t wait to have some extra time to get a quilt done. She will also finally have time to read her growing stack of books.
As the Curriculum Librarian, Jones’ responsibilities weren’t always the same. Over the years, Jones did work at the reference desk on the main floor, but the time spent there took away from her time near the curriculum collections. Eventually her full duties were focused on the Curriculum center.
“She has worked very closely with our education majors helping them get ready for going into schools, whether they are doing clinicals or student teaching,” said Laura Probst, director of the library. “She has helped them find resources and planning curriculum and going into classes.”
Probst remembers a time when Jones went above and beyond her job description.
“Connie likes to read stories to children at Cobber Kids Daycare and I remember all the kids gathered around her listening to her stories,” Probst said.
Before Jones worked at Concordia, she started out as an elementary school teacher. When she started to work on her library degree, she was given advice to work on a degree from the American Library Association accredited school. An ALA degree is required to work for an academic library position.
“I worked in Moorhead public school before and this job [at Concordia] came open and it looked to me that it would be a great fit, because I get to … stay in the K12 world of books and work with education majors. It looked like the best of both worlds,” Jones said.
Probst said Jones’ experience as a teacher and a media librarian was invaluable to the college. Probst still remembers the first time she met Jones.
“She was an enthusiastic and passionate person who cared about literature and working with kids,” Probst said.
Jones’ retirement is a great loss for the college and her presence will be missed in the library, but by next year, the library is hoping to hire a new curriculum librarian.
“It will be a challenge finding someone who comes with experience working with those kinds of material and working with the school,” Probst said. “We can’t replace Connie. She has too much knowledge and expertise, but we are hoping to bring someone who can offer something new and continue the tradition of working with students.”
In the meantime, Probst said the library will be making some part-time hires to help the librarians juggle their duties along with the needs of the Curriculum center.
“We will depend on the grace and talent of the staff to help cover what Connie did,” Probst said.
Although Jones is excited to start this new chapter of her life, she is sad to see this part of her life ending. Jones will miss being surrounded by her beloved collection of books, but she will miss the community Concordia has given her the most.
“[I will miss] the students and the people that I work with, because I will always be able to get books at the public library.”