MONTICELLO – Tina Emerick is going back home. That means, she’s leaving Monticello.
The Monticello-Union Township Public Library director is retiring after 31 years in public library service and plans to return to her home in the Elkhart area.
There will be a retirement and farewell party for her and the public is invited. It will be 3-5 p.m. May 12 at the library.
Emerick began working in libraries in the fall 1983 at a small academic library, and she spent 1½ years working in the film library at Plymouth School Corporation.
She entered public library service as a part-timer in 1988 with the Mishawaka and Indiana University South Bend libraries. Later that year, she began working full time at the Mishawaka library.
Emerick’s experience and skills led to her becoming the head of the children’s department at a small library to management and coordinator in Elkhart to eventually making her way to the Monticello Public Library and becoming the director in 2017.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in management from Bethel College in Mishawaka in 1994 and her master’s degree in library and information science, with a specialization in children and youth services, in May 1995 from Indiana University Bloomington.
Through her leadership of the library, Emerick was able to forge partnerships with the Streets of Monticello Association (SOMA), leading the Health for All group in White County, POP Club at the Farmers Market, and connecting with various outside groups.
She also improved staff salaries and benefits, as well as repairs to the library building, added speed bumps in the parking lot for improved safety, and a baby-changing table in the men’s restroom.
“It was fun working with the murder mystery, storytelling at Halloween and our biggest program with the viewing of the solar eclipse,” Emerick said. “I have enjoyed my time here and it has been an honor to serve both the staff and community.”
She has worked to bring awareness to the services and programs offered by the library for community patrons. Through her leadership, staff said the library was able to create a pandemic plan to focus on the safety and health of the staff and patrons.
“As far as COVID goes, it was a tough time but the team persevered,” Emerick said.
She said the library had only one positive COVID-19 test and, beyond the stay-at-home order, only shut down for an additional two weeks.
“Management worked hard to keep staff and the public safe and created a manual that got us through the pandemic,” Emerick said.
To keep services going during the pandemic, Emerick and her staff created virtual programs, added curbside pickup and drop-off for library materials, helped with unemployment filings and faxes, along with phone reference and genealogy assistance, little free library and food pantry at the library’s entrance and more.
“The entire staff stayed on and worked to help those reaching out, desperate for information and communication to loved ones and other agencies,” she said. “We became the information gap during this time because of so many agencies not taking in-person appointments — and we are stronger for it.”
Emerick’s last official day at the library will be May 14. Candace Wells, the library’s adult services manager, will serve as interim director until a replacement is hired.