After 32 years serving as a reference librarian, Julie Fee has retired and is headed home – to read a book.
Fee, who was born and raised in Woodstock, attended the University of Illinois and studied anthropology, then completed a master’s degree in library science. She started with Woodstock Public Library in 1984, after spending her first few years working for the Chicago Public Library.
Mayor Brian Sager recognized Fee for her service to the city of Woodstock at a City Council meeting Oct. 4. Fee retired from the library Oct. 18.
As a reference librarian, her long list of duties included building collections, proctoring exams, working at the reference desk and daily interfacing with the patrons of the library. She also was the coordinator for the English as a Second Language program, which is affiliated with McHenry County College. Fee helped to establish an English Conversation Club to further understanding of the English language in a laid-back, social environment.
She also recalls the Summer Reading Program and therapy dog Kailani as some of her highlights in recent years.
“The best thing has been working with the public. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know so many people,” Fee said. “One little guy would come in with his dad, he was about 2 when I first met him. He’s a grown-up young man now. I remember fussing over him; he was so cute. Now he’s all grown up. I’ve seen that happen so much.”
Throughout her time with the library, Fee has always felt passionate about the importance of parents reading to their children. Watching technology evolve over her 32 years as a librarian has reminded her just how significant it is for children to love books.
“When parents read to children, even when they’re still infants, it makes a huge difference in their life,” she said. “It’s a wonderful bonding experience. When you do that, kids get used to the concept of reading and how wonderful books are. Also, you’ll do better in school and do better in life. It just stimulates children in a very positive way. School isn’t as scary, since you’re already used to books.”
Once her office is cleaned out, Fee has plans to reconnect with family and friends she hasn’t seen in years. She also plans to work her way down a list of books she has kept adding to throughout her time with the library.
“I’m going to actually come here just to check out books, and go home and read them,” she said. History is her favorite subject, but she said choosing a favorite title isn’t possible.