Approaching the end of her twenty-seven-year career, Lynette Brown feels a whirlwind of nostalgia. As senior library associate at Ohio University Libraries, the stacks in Brown’s memories are filled with the stories of people, happenings, and relationships that she encountered during her time with the Libraries.
Brown first worked in the Libraries for six months just after high school, before attending beauty school. This was a time when the fine arts library was located in Seigfred Hall. After completing beauty school and starting a family, Brown went out on a whim.
“I said ‘I’ll go over to human resources and if I can find a parking space — which you know is not an easy thing in Athens — then I will apply for the job.’”
Sure enough, Brown found a parking spot and applied for a position in the Libraries. She was hired and joined the cataloging department in January of 1986. Brown credits Gloria Devol, Esther Schanzenbach and Lois Coutant, library specialist, for teaching her about cataloging. Coutant continues to work with Ohio University Libraries, as she has for 41 years now.
Brown’s mother, Rosalie Miller, was also an employee of the Libraries from 1965 until 1985. Brown adores her mother, whom she called her best friend. She is inspired by her mother, and recalls her deep faith and strong work ethic. She also remembers the fun-loving side of her mother, who loved to dress up and do silly things. To Brown, her mother was a jewel.
Brown believes that her mother started the “Intercom,” a weekly newsletter informing people in the Libraries of weekly happenings.
“Everyone was very anxious for the day those would enter our mailboxes,” Brown said. “Now if there is any single event, we get an e-mail. There is no need for the “Intercom” such as it was.”
Brown has earned a positive reputation, similar to her mother’s. Although she and her mother never worked together in the Libraries, her mother’s memory lives on in the lives of many of the Libraries’ staff.
“People do talk about her mom and how great her mom was,” said Janet Hulm, head of acquisitions and resource sharing. “But I’m sure she [Brown] will have her own legend.”
Hulm will miss Brown’s sharpened ability to place foreign language orders, which at times, is a challenging task. But beyond Brown’s work ethic, Hulm will treasure the personal relationship she had with Brown.
“I think it’s really just having the chats, you know? An opportunity to talk to her,” Hulm said. “Because all of us are replaceable, right? Somebody can come in and do our jobs. As far as the person though, the person isn’t replaceable.”
Approaching retirement, Brown looks back at the Libraries with appreciation for their passion for diversity. Working at the Libraries exposed her to cultures she would not have experienced had she not worked there. Upon leaving, Brown looks forward to spending time with her grandchildren, and generally having more free time.
“For a while, I pretty much want to do nothing but sleep in, “ Brown said. “But I’m sure I’ll get involved; I’ve got enough of my mother in me.